By Jennifer Solis
---- — WEST NEWBURY — One Pentucket High School freshman has something extra to be thankful for on Thursday.
Casey Saitow learned recently that his hard work and dedication as the school’s Color Guard captain has earned him a spot in the prestigious Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Saitow will be performing in the flag line for the color guard of the Macy’s Great American Marching Band.
The Macy’s band is made up of over 200 student musicians, color guard and dance performers from every state. The band is under the direction of music professionals from Ohio State, Auburn University and the University of Illinois, and the color guard and dancers are being directed by professionals who are affiliated with top drum and bugle corps — such as the Chicago Cavaliers and the Santa Clara Vanguard from California, said Lisa Arsenault, Pentucket’s Color Guard director.
Saitow’s selection marks the second time a Pentucket student will represent the state in the annual fall parade. In 2009, Arsenault’s son, Yuri, was chosen to join the trumpet section in the Great American Band.
In his second year performing with Pentucket’s Winter Color Guard, Saitow had to audition with a solo performance on tape in order to qualify to participate in the Thanksgiving activities. His coach said it was clear he was “a natural at color guard” from the moment he attended his first clinic at the high school in July 2011. “He started spinning the flag as if he had been doing it since he was 3 years old,” Arsenault said.
When she was asked to chaperone the Macy’s band this year, Arsenault said she “jumped on that
opportunity right away.” As someone who marched in drum corps as a youngster herself, she truly believes in these kinds of activities for kids. “I have marched in many parades but never in a major parade such as this on a big holiday,” Arsenault said.
In addition to rehearsing for and participating in the main event, the Great American Band will also tour the city. Their itinerary includes a Thanksgiving dinner and dance and a trip to see “Mama Mia” on Broadway.
Last summer Saitow also joined the color guard for the Spartans Drum and Bugle Corps of Nashua, N.H. The Spartans won top color guard for the third year in a row while performing in the Open Class Division of an organization called “Drum Corps International, Marching Music’s Major League.” The Spartans instructor, Lennie Machado, is also the choreographer and instructor for the Pentucket High Winter Guard.
“For students who love color guard, performing with a drum corps in the summer is a great way to stay involved all year long,” said Arsenault.
This year’s Winter Guard is currently designing their show for the annual competition season that runs from January to April. The group will perform to music sung by the band “Maroon 5.” In its first year of competition two years ago, the guard took first place in the novice class category at the New England Scholastic Band Association.
The guard rehearses every Monday night at the high school and Fridays at the West Newbury Town Annex. This year’s color guard includes six members of the high school — Saitow, Co-Captains Kalyn Cochran and Sean Wedding, Selina Wedding, Helena Wedding and Jackie Satkus — along with 10 middle schoolers — Katie Harriman, McKenna Blackey, Hailey Darcy, Calvin O’Neil, Amber Page, Amelia Lustenberger, Arianna Hopper, Britney Taylor, Emma Kiley and Dana MacMullen.
The Color Guard performs with the Pentucket High School Marching Band in the Lowell City of Lights Parade on Nov. 24 and in the Merrimac Santa Parade on Dec. 2.
Pentucket students in grades 7 to 12 who are interested in learning about the Pentucket Color Guard may contact Arsenault at email@example.com or 978-764-1796.