Fourteen Omaha teenagers are preparing to take off for New York City. They've been invited to take part in the opening number for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The dancers, with On Pointe Dance Centre at 120th & Blondo, will leave bright and early Saturday morning.
"We've been working really hard, cleaning up everything," said Becca Weber, a Marian High School freshman, "trying to make it as perfect as possible."
They were invited to take part back in February. Instructor Mandi Walkowiak said it was based on past competitions, including one event in New York. "Just based on our reputation," she said.
But they only received the dance routine, via the Internet, two weeks ago. The teens have been working on the moves by themselves at home, with a couple of dress rehearsals at their studio. They will have to coordinate those moves in a group of 600, working with national choreographers.
"When they get to New York, right away on Saturday, they will start rehearsing. And they will rehearse every day up until the event," Walkowiak said.
"I've watched it ever since I was a kid," said Marian High freshman Allie Leighton. "It's like a dream come true that I'm actually going to be dancing in it."
Walkowiak said it's a dream come true for the teachers, as well. "They're my children," she said. "We're proud parents. We're ready to see the excitement and smiles as they dance down the streets of New York."
Most of the dancers say the nerves haven't hit yet. They plan to focus on their dancing, not the cameras, with the possible exception of Marian High sophomore Annie Stenson. "It's exciting," she said. "I'm kind of a showbiz girl. I like to be on camera. I don't know, I like the attention."
She and the others will get plenty of that. An estimated 45 million people will be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Coverage begins at 9 a.m. Thursday, on WOWT.