LEESBURG, Fla. – The Macy's Great American Band likes to choose more than 200 students from all over the country to march in the Thanksgiving Day Parade, but this year, the band will be led by one student from Leesburg High School.
Timothy Rodriquez, 17, is one of two drum majors chosen to lead the band Thanksgiving morning.
A drum major is a student conductor tasked with leading a marching band in formation and on tempo both on the field and in a parade.
On Wednesday afternoon, Rodriquez kept his cool about the news while warming up the wind ensemble in the band room.
"It's almost like winning the lottery," Rodriquez said. "I have never won the lottery before but that's the feeling I had. It's indescribable."
The senior clarinetist auditioned and was chosen to march in the parade last year. However, this year at the Smith Walbridge Drum Major Clinic, a six-day camp of sorts to train more than 500 drum majors from across the nation, directors for the parade were looking for their next two drum majors.
"The number peaks at about 500 or 600 at the clinic and the director is there just watching you the entire time," he said.
Rodriquez got the email last week letting him know he was chosen.
"I was walking to class between sixth and seventh period, and I read the email on my phone and I immediately just stopped and my mind went blank," he said. "I was like, 'Did this really just happen?'"
His band director, Gabriel Fielder, wasn't surprised.
"When Tim was a freshman, I knew he was going to be a star. He's athletic. He's a state contender in weightlifting as well," Fielder said. "I'm so proud. I'm so proud of all my kids."
Fielder said he's not only proud of Rodriquez, but proud of how he represents Leesburg.
"It's proof. The good stuff we do doesn't always get out there," Fielder said. "When I see him that morning, I think it will be like, 'There is another one that's going to go out and do great things,' I'm going to be so proud."
Collectively, the band is trying to raise money to send Rodriquez to New York fully funded. Members have started a fundraiser and any extra money will go to help the band perform at the Smokey Mountain Music Festival in April.