Making history may look easy, but it’s not.
Success takes years for most, and lots of work.
Perhaps no one knows that better than Tia Walkup, the first Greenbrier West High student to play in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in about four decades.
In fact, she may be the only West Virginia student to be part of this year’s iconic holiday event.
“We have been checking and trying to find anyone else who’ll be in New York City as part of the parade. As far as we know, I’m the only student from West Virginia and that is a big honor,” she said.
She’ll be leaving at 3 a.m. tomorrow for this history-making trip, and the impending departure is a little scary.
After all, it’s been several months since she auditioned for the Macy’s Great American Marching band and was notified of her success.
She sent a video in May, and got her acceptance letter on June 5.
It’s especially exciting since the annual parade has been a part of her family’s Thanksgiving tradition.
“I usually watched the parade with my siblings, and now it’s hard to believe I will be there. And they will be watching me,” she said.
Since it was necessary to raise the nearly $3,000 needed to participate and cover expenses, she and family members have held fundraisers.
There is also a GoFundMe page that’s still accepting donations.
An account has also been opened for her at the Bank of Monroe. Checks and donations are being accepted to it, the Tia Walkup Fund for Macy’s Parade.
Folks have been generous, and many have expressed support for her representing West Virginia in such a positive way.
It’s a “once in a lifetime opportunity” even though she’s used to achieving other goals.
Being selected for the West Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts propelled her to audition for the nationally-known parade.
Now it’s nearly time to leave for New York City.
And this newest adventure is becoming more real than ever.
Soon she’ll be playing her flute and practicing with approximately 250 other student musicians from across the country chosen for this honor.
Although she’s been in the county’s school band program since fifth grade, music comes naturally and so does the ability to play multiple instruments.
Santa Claus may not cooperate, but she’s hoping to get a trombone for Christmas.
A junior, Walkup hopes to attend Marshall University and ultimately become a band teacher/director.
She credits Randy Sims with inspiring her to pursue to this dream.
“He is just so caring and works to help everyone, it really is something I hope I can do too. I want to be able to positively impact so many lives just like he has in our band,” she said.
Her mother, Misty Walkup, is thrilled with this latest success.
“Tia is the kind of person who finds what she wants to do, and then pursues her dreams. She comes to us, it isn’t a matter of us pushing her. Quite the opposite,” she said.
“She is the most ambitious kid I have ever seen in my life. She really keeps me on my toes, and is a real inspiration.”
As she gets older, the stakes are higher.
“I mean, this isn’t just a state event it is national and the competition reflected that level. We couldn’t be more proud.”