The Brighton High School Marching Band, which has a reputation of being possibly the best high school marching band in Michigan, will be performing in the annual Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade along with several other high school bands from the Metro Detroit area. The bands will be high-stepping and playing holiday songs in what is billed as “America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”, which is a registered trademark.

The parade is locked in a tie for second-oldest in the US with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. The Detroit parade was not held in 1943 or 1944 due to World War II, but with the war over, resumed in 1945. Last year, the parade took place without crowds lining the streets due to the COVID pandemic, but is back this year before a crowd expected to be in the hundreds of thousands, plus a national television audience viewing it at home, with over 185 TV stations joining in the live broadcast. In 2018 and the following year, the Detroit Thanksgiving Parade was named the “Best Holiday Parade in America” by the USA TODAY 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards.

Band Director Gabrielle Hoffman tells WHMI that the Brighton group, with about 170 members, is smaller this year due to COVID, but that has not diminished the quality of the band, which has won numerous awards over the years. In 1976, it was the first non-military band to perform at Arlington National Cemetery, as part of Bicentennial ceremonies. The band has also amassed numerous awards at five Festival Disneys in Orlando, Florida, where it earned gold medals and “Best in Class”; has performed at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida; and has played numerous times in the Detroit Thanksgiving Parade.

The band members and their adult mentors will leave the high school in six school buses at 6 a.m. According to Hoffman, they will be performing on live TV at about 11 a.m. Band Boosters President Mark Burnham says the Brighton contingent is “thrilled to be able to participate in this Thanksgiving tradition and honored to have been selected to perform.” They last performed in the Detroit Thanksgiving parade four years ago.

Meanwhile, the band will be performing in the annual Holiday Concert on Dec. 14th at 7 p.m. the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts. And next April, the band will be marching at the Magic Kingdom during Festival Disney in Orlando, FL. Fundraisers will be held to help pay for the costs, including a Euchre Tournament in January and a Fun Run in the spring. A subsidy has also been established to help defray band members’ expenses.

Top picture: The Brighton High School Marching Band performing at the 2019 Brighton vs. Davison Class “A” state football championship game at Ford Field in Detroit.