DANBURY, Conn. — Three young cheerleaders will get the thrill of a lifetime Thursday morning as they step off in the 97th annual Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Three young cheerleaders from Danbury earned spots in the lineup of the parade, which is the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the nation.
The girls are Emily Bustelo, a student at Broadview Middle School; Ella Brown, from King Street Intermediate; and Kiera McCarthy of Westside Middle School Academy.
The trio were part of the Danbury PAL Junior Hatters Cheer Team that competed at the Universal Cheerleader Association Camp at Pine Forest in August in Pennsylvania. Each of the girls earned the title All-American, and with it, the opportunity to perform in the parade with other All-American cheerleaders from across the nation.
"When I heard my name called that night after tryouts it felt so good! Since it is only my second year in cheer I was extremely surprised," McCarthy said. "As I received my medal, I was so happy. I can't wait to keep fundraising and go to Philly!"
The girls are visiting Philadelphia landmarks when they are not practicing routines with the rest of the All-American cheerleaders or marching in the parade. The trip will take place from Nov. 22 to 25.
“A lot of girls tried out, three made it. This was only our second year going to camp,” said Joyce Robbins, assistant coach and manager for the Junior Hatters. “They’ve achieved the skills needed to show the judges they were capable with jumps, dances and cheering skills, and they can work as a team.”
“The Junior Hatters are a squad of eighth-graders and under,” Robbins continued. “We’re considered a feeder program for Danbury High School. The DHS varsity team goes to this camp. It’s very significant for us to attend. No other youth program in the area does this.”
The girls on the Junior Hatters team are some of the youngest to participate in the camp and the All-American tryouts, she said. The Junior Hatters are coached by Samantha Robbins, assisted by Joyce Robbins and Brianne Shepherd.
The parade steps off at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and will be broadcast on some ABC channels.