Jonesboro High School Marching Cardinals land a spot in 2024 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Jonesboro High Marching Cardinals with posing Macy's reps as one of the bands in 2024 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (DorMiya Wabe/WABE)

Jonesboro High students and staff gathered in the gym for a “special announcement.” The band played a few songs thinking they were there to honor their principal. 

The students were eventually surprised by Wesley Whatley. Whatley is the Creative Director for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

“Today is a surprise for the talented students right here behind me on this gym floor,” Whatley said. “We got some good news. It’s so big. It has never been heard at this high school before.”

As Whatley spoke, none of the attendees could contain their excitement.

“It is with great pleasure that I announced today that for the first time in the school’s history,” Whatley said. “The Jonesboro High School majestic marching Cardinals have been selected to represent the great state of Georgia and perform in New York City in the 2024 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

The gym was filled with cheers, and students in the band started to chant “New York, New York” in unison. 

The Macy’s Band Committee selects applicants that meet criteria like stage presence and the ability to entertain an audience. Whatley says the marching cardinals “has it all!”

Lynel Goodwin has been the band’s director for the last seven years. He says all the hard work from students and staff is paying off.

“It makes me feel like I am doing something right,” Goodwin said. “I had a three-year plan. It took a little bit longer, but we are here, so it makes me feel just great because I know what this is going to do for our entire community.”

Several students were in disbelief at the news, like sophomore William Shelton. Shelton is a drum major with the band.

“I’m really surprised. This is like, a collegiate level event, and for people our age to actually come and do it. It like really surprised me.”

Jonesboro’s new mayor Dr. Donya Sartor committed to making sure students have the resources to attend the parade.

At the close of the event, representatives from the Macy’s at South Lake Mall presented the band with a ten-thousand-dollar check to help boost fundraising efforts. Parents like Paige Martin, who has two teens in the band, say the donation is reassuring her.

“It makes it makes me feel like that this is really going to be a reality,” Martin said. “We have such a wonderful support system from the community that I know it’s going to happen.”