A North Texas high school drill team will be representing the United States in the Rome New Year’s Day Parade.
The Cardinal Belles Drill Team from Plano’s John Paul II High School started their journey to Italy on Monday.
The 17-member group was selected from drill teams across the country by Spirit of America Productions.
“The Cardinal Belles have won numerous regional, state, and national championship titles, but for me, being selected by Spirit of America to represent our country is the most prestigious award the Cardinal Belles have ever received, and we could not be more grateful for the opportunity,” said the team’s director and coach Bethany Ralston.
The Rome New Year’s Day Parade is comparable to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in popularity and will be televised throughout Europe. The Belles’ eight-day trip will include their featured performance at the big parade as well as other performances at festivals throughout Italy.
Over 100,000 people from around the world are expected to attend the main event. The parade will proceed along the grand, broad thoroughfare of Via della Conciliazione and up to St. Peter’s Square and the Basilica.
Elizabeth Hogan, the captain of the Belles, told reporters that the team is happy about the opportunity to perform at such a large event.
“We are so excited to be selected to be the representatives for our country, our school, and our faith and feel blessed for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform internationally especially since it’s the only parade blessed by the pope,” Hogan said.
After the Pope’s New Year’s address and blessing, the Plano team, along with civic, military, and other school marching bands, will put on a stationary performance for crowds gathered in the square.
Chad Evans, the president of John Paul II High School, is confident that the team will do a great job.
“We are so proud of these young women because we know how hard they work and the time and commitment they invest to be the best. The Belles include outstanding students and will be exemplary representatives of our school and country,” said Evans.