Uhrichsville girl brings cheer to Thanksgiving Day Parade

Uhrichsville girl brings cheer to Thanksgiving Day Parade

Makenna Rini, a cheerleader at Claymont High School, was selected as a member of the All-American Cheer Team and marched in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Cheerleading can lead to more than a successful sports game. For Makenna Rini, 15, of Uhrichsville it led to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania bringing cheer to an entire city during its Thanksgiving Day parade.

The Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade is a tradition for the city, and it is the longest running Thanksgiving Day parade in the United States. In addition to the cheerleading groups, dancers, musical acts and bands, the parade features floats, large balloons featuring Disney characters, celebrities, and Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. The parade is always held on Thanksgiving Day.

Rini has been a Claymont cheerleader for three years, leading cheers in football and basketball for her school. She was nominated to try out for the parade at a cheer camp she attended over the summer, and she was the only one on her team to earn a spot.

Learning team choreography without practicing as a group was a challenge, but the members of the team pulled it off.

“They would send us videos of the choreography that we had to learn before we went,” Rini said.

Rini traveled to Philadelphia with her mother Morgan Tantarelli and her grandmother Laurie Barcus. It was about an eight-hour drive by car and Rini’s first trip to the city. They left for the event on Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving and returned home on Friday night.

The All-American Cheer Team as a group had three practices to get the routine down right before the parade. Participants on the cheer team came from all over the United States, and Rini met some girls from Nevada, Texas and Louisiana.

“I liked meeting all the girls, just learning all the routines with them and having fun,” Rini said. “I liked the routines that they have for us, and all the people I was by were really nice and welcoming.”

During the parade the crowd showed their appreciation for the All-American Cheer Team.

“They loved us. They were cheering so much,” Rini said.

Being on an All-American cheerleader team is something Rini would like to do again, and she may get another opportunity if she is nominated again to try out for an All-American cheerleader team.

There were only two downsides of the trip; one was the winter temperatures during the parade.

“I was cold the whole time,” Rini said of the about 2-mile, three-hour parade.

The girls on the team all stayed at the same hotel, and they said the building’s very slow elevators put a crimp in their fun.

The girls were offered different activities while they were in town including a walking tour of the city and a dinner boat cruise.

Rini’s favorite part of the city was the Rocky Balboa statue located on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Rocky statue and “Rocky Steps” are two of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia. The Rocky statue was originally created for a scene in “Rocky III,” and it is now a monument honoring Philadelphia’s favorite fictional son.

Also participating from Tuscarawas County in the Philadelphia parade on Thanksgiving was Dover seventh-grader Shaelee Balder. She was chosen as an All-American at a Universal Cheerleaders Association summer camp earlier this year.

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