Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets' Highty-Tighties marching band under the direction of Maj. George McNeill will participate in the 80th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Thursday, Nov. 22.

The parade starts at 9 a.m. and will be broadcast on the NBC television network.

The 2.5-mile parade through Manhattan is seen by 2.5 million people who line the streets and watch from windows and another 44 million nationwide who watch the live NBC broadcast on television.

No strangers to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Highty-Tighties have performed in five previous parades from 1977 through 1999. When the call came from the Parade Committee this year asking if the Highty-Tighties would be interested in marching again, McNeill didn’t hesitate to accept.

“Macy’s is one of the band’s favorites and it’s been over seven years since we last participated. The band is honored and thrilled to be marching in New York City again,” said McNeill.

McNeill, a retired member of the United States Army, comes to the Highty-Tighties after 22 years of enlisted military service in the Army Band Program. Upon completion of AIT at the Naval School of Music in 1968, McNeill was assigned to the 324th US Army Band, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., In 1975, he was reassigned to the 296th Army Band in Camp Zama, Japan. In 1979, he returned to the United States to serve with the First U.S. Army Band, Fort Meade, Md., until his retirement in 1990. McNeill was named band director for the Highty-Tighties in 1992 as a member of the Virginia Militia, and has overseen the rise of the band in terms of numbers and musical quality.

The Highty-Tighties Regimental Marching Band is the oldest continuously performing musical organization at Virginia Tech. Founded in 1893, the band has grown significantly to become a symbol of excellence at Virginia Tech.

Started in 1924 by Macy’s department store employees, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become one of America’s most celebrated traditions of the holiday season. It has enjoyed an 80-year history with only one three-year suspension during World War II when from 1942 through 1944, Macy’s donated their balloons that were constructed with rubber, a much needed rare resource, to the war effort.