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Farmington cheerleaders will march in Macy's parade

Pieper Walton, Hailey Sable and Olivia Gruver left Saturday and spent time exploring New York City before participating in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

On Thanksgiving morning, as most Farmington residents are preparing themselves for a day of family and food, three Farmington High School students will be somewhere on the streets of New York City. They’ll mingle with hundreds of thousands of others, among elaborate floats and under the shadow of large balloons shaped like cartoon characters or corporate mascots.

The students, seniors Olivia Gruver and Hailey Sable and junior Pieper Walton, will be part of the Spirit of America Productions float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

All three earned the opportunity at cheerleading camps they attended over the summer. Gruver and Sable were given the chance at a camp in Wisconsin Dells because they are seniors. Walton, who is in her first year of cheering for the Tigers, earned her spot in a cheer-off at a camp in Eagan.

Sable and Gruver said they knew as soon as they learned about the opportunity that they wanted to go.

“It just sounded like such a good experience,” Gruver said Thursday, two days before the group was set to leave for New York. “That’s everyone’s dream…. I’ve always watched (the parade) on TV ever since I was little.”

Making the trip will be about much more than a parade. In addition to rehearsing their routine for the parade route the students participating in the float will attend two Broadway shows, stand outside the windows at the Today Show, go ice skating at Rockafeller Center and visit New York City landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 memorial.

“I’m looking forward to the experience in general, because every year I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and I wondered what it would be like to be part of something that big,” Walton said.

Sable and Gruver have been cheering in one form or another for most of their lives. Sable started at 5 years old and marched in the Dew Days parade. Gruver started as a dancer and figured she would stick with that. But then a friend signed up for cheerleading and Gruver decided to check it out. A normally quiet girl, Gruver said being a cheerleader has changed her.

“It brought something else out in me that I’d never seen before,” she said. “My parents said, ‘You’re smiling all the time.’ I just really like cheering people on. It’s really fun.”

Walton started in dance at age 3 and said she always knew she’d be a cheerleader someday “because it fits my personality.… I’m very loud.”

Walton is active in baseball and softball, and she competes in pageants. Being a cheerleader, she said, combines those two sides of her personality.

Getting ready for the trip has taken some work. In addition to getting familiar with the routine, which is posted online, all three have had to get ahead on their school work. Walton had to take six finals on Friday so she could miss classes Monday and Tuesday.

All three think it will be worth the work, though. They look forward to perhaps inspiring the next generation of little girls seated in front of their television on Thanksgiving Day.

“I think it’s going to be really surreal when we’re down there,” Sable said.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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