By Sue Kiesewetter
DEERFIELD TWP. - For the second time in three years, the Kings Firecrackers jump-rope team will spend Thanksgiving before a national audience as part of the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. And this year, the team also will hit the NBA hardwood for two performances.
This time the team will jump throughout the 2.5-mile parade route, in addition to a one-minute routine in Herald Square that will be televised nationally.
"Last time we wanted them to walk part of the way, but the crowd wanted them to jump. We're not going to even try (walking) this time,'' said Lynn Kelley, Firecrackers adviser.
They are the second Greater Cincinnati area group chosen to be part of the 77th annual parade, which will be aired 9 a.m.-noon Nov. 27 on NBC. Miami University's marching band was also selected to be in the parade.
Thirteen-year-old Eleni Lazares said she was excited when the team found out they were invited back to the parade. As a first-year member in 2001, Eleni didn't participate in the parade.
"I was a little disappointed, but I understood why I couldn't go,'' Eleni said. "I am a little nervous, but I'm more prepared. I've more experience performing. I'm used to a crowd, and I know how to focus.''
While in New York, the Firecrackers will also visit Madison Square Garden, where they will perform a 7-minute routine during the Knicks-Hornets basketball game Nov. 29 - the team's first NBA performance. They will travel to Chicago Dec. 6 to perform during halftime of the Bulls-Hornets game.
To prepare for the parade, the 24-member team is building up its endurance by walking in subdivisions near Kings elementary schools where the girls practice. Each day, the girls go a little further.
Practices are held six days a week and last up to two hours for the fourth- through eighth-grade girls who are on the team.
"The hardest part is the release - when you throw the rope up and then you catch it,'' said Danielle D'Erminio, a first-year member. "You have to practice a lot. I haven't got it yet. I'm really close."
Kristen Pucke has developed a method to keep the beat in her head during performances.
"Counting makes it easier," said Kristen, 13. "I say 'jump, jump, jump' to the beat."
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