A few students from Illinois State University will spend Thanksgiving with 50 million people. Of course, not around the dining room table.
This Thursday, ISU’s Gamma Phi Circus will perform live at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade alongside Emmy-winner Billy Porter. It will be televised on NBC.
This year, the Gamma Phi Circus is also celebrating its 90th anniversary. Senior Radiance Campbell is proud to be a part of two huge legacies.
“I feel really blessed to have been a part of Gamma Phi’s tradition. And now we get to be a part of this big American tradition with Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, so it feels like it's coming full circle,” said Campbell.
There will be 16 students performing Thursday, including Campbell and Gamma Phi President Sophie Remmert.
“It's really exciting. We're both seniors, so kind of going out with a bang this year is a really awesome opportunity for us,” said Remmert.
News of this opportunity came as a surprise to the Gamma Phi Circus members, but perhaps they’re used to being kept on their toes.
“It was our big home show last April, and I was sitting on top of the wire platform like waiting for the show to start after intermission, and our artistic director (Ivan Stoinev) came out on stage and told us all right then for the first time,” said Campbell. “Most of us were backstage, some of us were getting ready for our acts. And it was just a huge surprise.”
“Our other director didn't even know at the time,” said Remmert. “It was new to the audience, it was new to all the members in the circus, and it was just a crazy feeling once we found out.”
The Gamma Phi Circus boarded its flight to NYC on Sunday night. Their weeklong stay includes some sightseeing, costume fittings, and rehearsals.
“At least for me, it doesn’t feel quite real yet that we're actually going to this parade that I've watched since I was a kid. Like we’re actually now going to be in it,” said Campbell.
Wherever they’re watching from, Gamma Phi will make Redbirds everywhere feel right at home.
“It's gonna be a big production and a little bit of everything. So it's something you're not gonna want to miss,” said Remmert.
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