HAMPTON, Va. - After a long week, the Hampton University Marching Force band returned to Hampton University’s campus around 8:30 p.m. Friday.
The Marching Force was welcomed back to a surprise homecoming celebration complete with a DJ and Pete the Pirate. Dozens of students stepped off the bus and immediately starting dancing to the music and cheering.
Hampton University Junior Sean Robinson is the Drumline Section Leader for the band. He said performing in the iconic parade was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“It’s been nothing but fun, pure fun all around – from getting on the bus, preparing, packing at home, it’s been nothing but a great experience,” Robinson said. “On the bus, we had great vibes on the bus. Just getting out there, especially early morning. I know all of us were tired, but we knew we had a job to do and knew we had to execute properly. We were in this stadium for many, many days. It's just a great feeling to know that all the hard work that you put in has been for great use. We know that we've done the job that we needed to do as best as we possibly could. So, it's just been an amazing feeling, an amazing feeling.”
University Bands Director Dr. Thomas Jones said 180 students performed during Thursday’s spectacle as millions watched from home.
“I’m elated,” he said. “Being able to see the students, the look on their faces when they hit that star, they didn’t know what was in store for them. To be on TV, they're celebrities now. I'm really happy for them because they put in so much hard work. They paid their dues and for them to get this experience, I'm just more than happy for them.”
The Hampton University Marching Band was chosen from more than 100 applicants to march in last year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
However, that invitation was pushed to this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
News 3 has been following the band for the past few weeks as they geared up to take the streets of New York City by storm. And they did, marching as the only historically black college or university to get an invite to Thursday's parade.
Through a $100,000 donation, Pepsi Stronger Together provided transportation to and from New York City as well as practice uniforms for the band.
“The Marching Force is an elite group of talented, young musicians and dancers who are academically accomplished. This opportunity will allow Hampton University to once again shine on the worldwide stage in front of the millions in attendance and others watching from across the globe,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey. “Under the direction of Dr. Thomas Jones, The Marching Force continues to uphold the Standard of Excellence as being one of the best marching bands in the nation.”
After the celebrations wind down and some much-needed rest, Jones said he wants to take Hampton University Marching Force’s talents internationally.