Howland junior Xavier Hileman drums beat for Macy’s parade
HOWLAND — Howland High School junior Xavier Hileman will get national attention as he and other students from across the nation perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Hileman, 16, left this past weekend for New York City, where he has been practicing five songs as part of the Macy’s Great American Marching Band. Hileman will play bass drum in the parade.
The band will march starting 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day through New York City for the annual parade, which is seen by millions of people. The band will perform at Herald Square, where the cameras will be.
Hileman, who has been in band the past three years as a percussionist, said in 2019 a friend, Christian Sincich of Howland, who played trumpet, performed in the Macy’s parade.
“He told me about how he applied and was selected to be in the parade. During COVID I was practicing a lot more and decided to audition for the parade. I felt the audition would be great to do whether I made it or not. They sent me the songs, and I practiced and sent them the video,” Hileman said.
He was informed earlier this year that he had been accepted.
“I’m excited. My family’s excited. They will all be there. … It’s an honor to be with the band,” he said.
The band is comprised of select students from across the country. Hileman was one of 30 chosen out of more than 200 applications for the drum line.
The band practiced Sunday to Wednesday.
Hileman said half the time is practicing for the parade, and the other time sightseeing in New York. He and the other members were provided the red-and-white uniforms.
He said Sincich, a college student now, told him the experience is “very surreal” and everyone was very energetic.
Hileman said he has been to New York City before and has enjoyed his time there.
“I look forward to it. I love going there,” he said.
Hileman has been drumming for most of his life.
“I’ve had a drum set since I was 4 years old, but really practicing drumming for about four years now,” Hileman said.
Band members will perform two songs for the main show.
Greg Rezabek, Howland High School band teacher, said he is excited about Hileman’s opportunity.
“I am really proud of him, and to be able to get experience at the national level, that is what is great about this. I was impressed he took the initiative to apply for a national honor band and to be accepted,” Rezabek said. “Xavier is always working on his skills as a percussionist. He will do fine with the band in New York. For him to be able to do this is a great experience beyond our high school. New York is the center for music. This is big time.”
Rezabek said the band was not able to perform in 2020 due to the pandemic.