Cheerleader in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Foothill senior Haley Bean heads to New York soon to take part in the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Haley was invited to join the Spirit of America cheer team because she's a cheer squad captain. Cheer captains nationwide are invited to take part.

"I've always wanted to be in the parade, ever since I was a little kid," the 17-year-old said. "I've always wanted to walk along and hold a balloon."

When Haley found out she could be in the parade, albeit without a gigantic balloon, she was over the moon with excitement.

"There are no words to describe it," she said. "It's unreal. It's a dream come true. Instead of watching it, I'll be performing in it."

Haley will perform with one of the two massive cheer squads the Spirit of America association has in the parade. There are two groups with 650 cheerleaders each.

Each cheerleader was given a link to a video of the performance they must learn before arriving in New York City for the big event.

"The first day we get there, we start rehearsing," Haley said. "We do fun stuff, too, but every day we have intense rehearsals."

The cheerleaders' itinerary includes trips to such New York City landmarks as the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty harbor cruise and Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes' Christmas performance.

Haley's parents agreed to let her perform in the parade, but only if she raised the money needed to fund her trip. She managed to pull together the funds in the past few months to make her dream come true.

"I've been looking forward to it for so long," she said. "It's almost unreal. I can't believe I'm leaving for NY soon to go be in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade."

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade airs locally Thursday, Nov. 22 on the NBC affiliate from 9 a.m. to noon. Look for the Spirit of America cheerleaders in their red, white and blue uniforms.

Posted Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012