Valley band directors to perform in Macy’s parade
Band directors from around the Mahoning Valley were picked, along with 400 others across the country, to march in Thursday’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Lowellville band director Mellissa Husosky, her husband Tyler, who is the band director at Lakeview, Michael Summers from Liberty and Warren John F. Kennedy’s lower campus band director Kyle Zimmerman all were selected to play as part of the Saluting America’s Band Directors project. Alaina Cornfield and Chas Miller from Columbiana, Jennifer Mollenkopf from East Palestine and Emily Bowling from Southern Local also will participate.
Tim Carlson, a retired Grand Valley Schools band director, is in the group as well.
“It’s like a bucket list thing,” Summers said. “It’s going to be really exciting, after watching every year as a kid, to see those big balloons flying right over us.”
Summers said he is proficient in all brass instruments, and has been teaching music for 34 years. He said that “a-ha” moment kids have is the best part about instructing young musicians.
“A lot of kids will pick up all kinds of instruments, but when they finally get it and enjoy playing the music, that’s when you know they’ve found what works for them,” Summers said.
The Michael D. Sewell Memorial Foundation, based in Pickerington, is the sponsoring organization behind the Saluting America’s Band Directors project. Its mission was created to recognize and carry on the work of the late Mike Sewell, a 40-year music director and organizer in the Central Ohio area.
Mellissa Husosky said she found out almost a year ago that she would be marching with the Directors Marching Band. The opportunity to connect with students, Husosky said, empowers her will to continue teaching music. She teaches fifth- and sixth-grade band, and seventh- and eighth-grade choir.
“I also teach elementary,” Husosky, who will play clarinet in the parade, said.
Now in her 12th year teaching, Husosky also mentioned that she taught at Jackson-Milton Local Schools for two years.
Carlson, who retired in 2022 and knew Sewell before he passed, will perform with the band for the second time.
“I always told kids, some instruments are easier for you than others, because everyone is different,” Carlson said. “For the kids, it’s nice to feel the strength end of it. Being a part of something to work toward. It’s empowering, and lifelong, unlike maybe sports that kids will play. Since I’ve retired, I still play in musicals and do a lot of performing. As a kid, you do a lot of different things. I’m 57 now, but I’m the best player I’ve ever been in my life, and still getting better every day.”
Carlson, who will play trumpet in the parade, described his experience playing in the Rose Parade as “an adventure.”
“I’m expecting this will also be one,” he said.
Tyler Husosky will play the crash symbols and said the experience will be an asset to band students across the country.
“We teach more than just music,” he said. “We teach life skills, teamwork, responsibility and a wonderful variety of music,” he said.
The 15-year educator added that while the trip has been a fun experience, it has also been “very intensive.”
“We’ve had early mornings, leaving our hotel at 6 a.m. and then usually concluding rehearsals around 11 a.m.,” he said. “It’s mostly been about getting all 400 members to hit our spots, and cross the television spots with the right timing. So there’s been a lot of endurance, polishing on the music end and just making sure we’re looking our best.”
Zimmerman said he has traveled to New York a few times, but performing at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum this time around is an amazing experience.
“It’s been really early days and long nights, with adapting to the changes that come along,” the first-year full-time teacher said.
Zimmerman, who commutes to Warren JFK from East Palestine every day, will play trombone in the parade. He added he found out he was selected for the band last October.
Summers explained that he and others from the area boarded their flights Sunday morning and had their first rehearsal from 7 to 10 p.m. the same day. Monday morning, the band rehearsed and performed at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in the city, then participated in a wreath-laying ceremony.
Tyler Husosky said the wreath-laying event was special because no other organization, except for the New York City Fire Department, had ever hosted their own tribute. He also mentioned this wasn’t his first time visiting the city, but “in this capacity, seeing different things that I hadn’t seen before, it’s great.”