Fifes and Drums of Colonial Williamsburg will perform in the “Longest Running Show on Broadway” – the 82nd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® – Thursday, Nov. 27 in New York City.
Colonial Williamsburg’s musical ambassadors celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2008. Fifty fifers and drummers – one for every year of their anniversary – will participate in the Macy’s Parade.
The parade is two and a half miles in length and steps off at 9 a.m. at 77th Street and Central Park West and ends at 34th Street and Herald Square. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be seen by an audience of three-and-a-half million on the streets of New York City and an additional television audience of more than 40 million during the Parade’s broadcast on NBC.
Founded in 1958, the Fifes and Drums perform in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area nearly 500 times during the year in daily programs from mid-February through December and during special programs observing major holidays. The Fifes and Drums are comprised of boys and girls ages 10-18 from the local community. Nearly 100 youths perform as members of two units: a junior and a senior group. Junior group members train while waiting for a “front-line” vacancy in the senior group. Each member on average receives two periods of instruction and participates in two full rehearsals each week. The senior members enjoy a busy travel schedule as well, performing at special events outside the Historic Area.
A quasi-military unit, the present Fifes and Drums follows 18th-century practice by using school-aged children with the exception of the drum major. Members pass tune and marching requirements to advance through the rank system that begins at recruit. Field musicians were vital to commanders as the sole means of relaying orders during battle. Whenever companies were mustered into regiments, company musicians were similarly massed into Field Music. In this formation they were responsible, under the drum major’s direction, for marching the regiment in proper cadence and for beating daily ceremonies – Reveille, the General, the Assembly, the Retreat and the Tattoo.
The world-renowned military musicians have represented Colonial Williamsburg throughout the country, including performances at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the Lexington and Concord 225th Celebration in Boston and the New-York Historical Society. In addition, the Fifes and Drums performed for several events commemorating America’s 400th Anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas at Jamestown, including Landing Party Festivals at six east coast ports of call during the Godspeed Sail, the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and His Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and America’s 400th Anniversary Weekend. The Fifes and Drums’ first appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was in 1993.