Performing in the dance of a lifetime


GRAFTON—One local dancer received the dance of a lifetime, after being accepted into a historied dance group.

In the summer of 1986, Mike Miller from Spirit of America secured the first opportunity for dancers to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.  The Spirit of America cheerleaders and dancers are the only performers who hold a permanent berth in the parade, aside from Santa Claus and the Rockettes. 

This year, Grafton’s own Payton Forte got to join the Spirit of America Dancers in this incredible tradition. 

Forte traveled with her 19 fellow dancers from In Step Dance in Clarksburg, to New York City early Thanksgiving week to rehearse and polish the dance, along with other dancers from across the nation. There were 650 dancers total in the Spirit of America Dancers.

The girls from In Step Dance received a video of the dance months before the actual performance, but they still attended multiple hours-long rehearsals while in New York City. 

The dancers all stayed at the New York Hilton Midtown, which afforded Forte the chance to really enjoy the city with her family while not in rehearsal. 

“It was great for the kids to see the city getting ready for the holidays.  There was something new being added every day,” said Forte’s mother Leslie Pellegrin.

While in the Big Apple, the ladies were treated to some fun and excitement.

“We also got to take them to see the Rockettes perform as well as a Broadway play,” revealed Pellegrin. “It was a great experience all around.”

Forte shared that her experience in New York for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was one that will not soon be forgotten.

“It was great getting to know dancers from all over the US and seeing all the sights in New York,” expressed Forte. “Dancing with all those people to “Winter Wonderland” in the Macy’s Day Parade was an experience I will never forget.” 


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