Kings of Halftime to Selected for 2019 Thanksgiving Day Parade

MLK Jr. Band Selected for Macy's Parade 2019It started as a prediction from a DeKalb County School District (DCSD) child two years ago.

It turned into an impetus for hard work, discipline, and passion for music.

It ended—on May 3—as a fantastic reality for Martin Luther King Jr. High School’s marching band.

Martin Luther King Jr. High School’s marching band—The Kings of Halftime—was selected as one of nine bands nationwide to march in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For the next 18 months, the band will raise funds, spread enthusiasm, and continue to perfect its craft, before marching in front of more than 50 million people across the globe.

“My daughter, Angela, and I were watching the parade two years ago. She said to me, ‘Daddy, I want your band to march in that parade. I want to be in the streets of New York with your band,’” said MLK High School band director Travis Kimber. “She said, ‘I want to be nine years old when I go.’ And it just so happens, she will be nine in 2019.”

DCSD administrators joined MLK high school and Macy’s officials on May 3 for a surprise announcement at the school. Students gathered into the auditorium in the morning and thought they would be practicing.

Instead, they were greeted by Macy’s Parade & Entertainment creative director Wesley Whatley, who did a great job creating anticipation.

“We want to talk a little bit today about legacy and what it means to perform in a band that achieves excellence. I believe I’m in the presence of excellence,” Whatley said. “We’ve had our eye on you for a number of years. We have watched your field performances and the excitement you bring to your performance for years. We watched you in the Rose Parade. It is with great pride, and it gives me great pleasure, that for the first time in this school’s history, the MLK Kings of Halftime have been selected to represent this school, and the great state of Georgia, and to perform in New York City at the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Congratulations!”

Whatley, who marched in a high school band as both a saxophone player and drum major, will travel throughout the country to invite other bands to play in the 2019 Thanksgiving Day Parade. According to Whatley, more than 100 high school, college and adult-level bands.

“The community represented at this school is special,” Whatley said. “We believe in shining a national spotlight on communities like this.”

MLK Jr. Band Selected for Macy's Parade 2019DCSD Superintendent/CEO R. Stephen Green, who played the tuba in high school, was among the first to congratulate the Kings of Halftime on their invitation.

“Thank you, Macy’s, for selecting us, but I would rather think [the band] earned a place and forced you to have to pick them, because they’re that good,” Green said. “As [the band] goes forward in this wonderful experience that’s once in a lifetime, I hope they have in mind the man after which this school is named. He was a drum major for justice, drum major for human rights, drum major for civil rights—as you march, think of him. Think of the legacy you are carrying forward. Take that to your heart and march with pride, honor and tremendous passion and play on!”

Green was joined by DeKalb County Board of Education member Vickie Turner, regional superintendent Triscilla Weaver, and MLK High School principal Ennis Harvey in expressing congratulations.

Martin Luther King Jr. High School’s marching band has played at such locations as California for the annual Rose Parade, South Africa, Dallas, Alabama, among others.