Thursday, October 18, 2001

Troupe heads to big parade

Jump-rope team to appear in 2001 Macy's event

By Sarah Buehrle
Enquirer Contributor

        SOUTH LEBANON — Seventeen elementary-school girls in red, white and blue uniforms will wheel and twirl through the streets of New York Nov. 22 at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

        The Firecrackers are a jump-rope team of 22 South Lebanon Elementary fourth- through seventh-grade students, 17 of whom will form the group chosen for the 75th annual New York parade.

[photo] Emilee Slowik (left) and Sarah Klinker, both 11, practice their routines Wednesday afternoon with the other Firecrackers.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        “I always watch the parade on TV, but I never thought I'd be in it,” said Chelsea Caito, a seventh-grader. “I hope we do a good job, and they like us.”

        The girls, who usually practice four days a week, are working daily to condition for the parade route of almost three miles and the one-minute finale in Herald Square. The parade will be broadcast at 9 a.m.-noon on NBC (Channels 5, 22).

        The Firecrackers going to New York consist of 15 fourth- through seventh-graders, plus two eighth-graders who are going because they were on the team's audition tapes sent to the parade administration in 2000.

        Born in 1995 out of a physical-education class taught by Lynn Kelley, the team's coach, the girls have performed at college games and local festivals.

        Elina Kazan, director of public relations of Macy's, said it was the girls' spirit that led the committee to choose the team.

        The girls will leave Nov. 20 and return Nov. 25.

        After the Sept. 11 attacks on New York, parents held a meeting to decide whether to cancel the performance. Mrs. Kelley said that parents decided unanimously to continue.

        “If ... everybody takes that attitude, then the country is just going to shut down,” said Patty Cory, mother of Allie, who's been on the team three years.

        Choreographed to music, the girls perform individual acrobatics with ropes and tricks as a group.

        Take the rainbow, which consists of a 40-foot, 20-foot, 15-foot and 5-foot rope, all twirled inside one another.

        Mrs. Kelley said the team performs an average of 25 times a year, and that the group turns down nearly 100 requests each season.

        The trip, which includes a tour through Chinatown, SoHo and Ellis Island, will cost $1,250 per person. A parent must accompany each girl, for a minimum of $2,500 per family, meals not included.

        The group has held fund-raisers and canvassed neighborhoods but has not raised all the money required. All families have committed to financing the trip, regardless of the amount raised, Mrs. Cory said.

        To donate, send checks to Firecracker Donations, c/o Kings Local Schools, 5620 Columbia Road, Kings Mills, Ohio 45034.

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