Indy Air Bears will participate in Macy’s parade
Renowned for their rope jumping abilities, members of the Indy Air Bears will showcase their talents when participating in the 89th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Come Nov. 26, Eric Hinojosa, Morgan Golay, Grace LaVier, Elise McQueen, Allison Taylor and Katie Tyson will join more than 100 other jumpers from across the country in the 3-mile parade, which starts in Central Park.
The athletes – known as Jumpers United for Macy’s Parade – will perform many tricks in unison while jumping their way along the route to the delight of some 3.5 million spectators who will line the streets 20 deep and crowd windows and balconies along the way.
The weather will be unpredictable, but the jumpers will be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at them.
To perform throughout the entire distance, the jumpers have endured months of practice to culminate with the cadenced steps that will be seen during the parade.
They met in Cleveland in October for a weekend practice. Their routines range from simple to complex, with the latter requiring two or more ropes. Doing pushups and handstands to twirling ropes are among the maneuvers.
“It’s all about timing and practice,” agreed Taylor and LaVier, both juniors at Franklin Central. “Each jump has a specific count.”
The jumpers’ claim to fame will come when performing a one-minute choreographed segment for the live NBC broadcast from Herald Square for an estimated 50 million television viewers. The parade will be aired from 9 a.m.-noon on WTHR Channel 13.
“It’s exciting to see it all come together,” said Air Bears coach Niki Glover, who isn’t making the trip but will be glued to her television set. “This is the experience of a lifetime and a great opportunity to be in front of a national television audience doing something fresh, fun and electrifying.”
Glover, a retired Arlington Elementary School teacher, launched the Air Bears in 1986 at the school, after attending a jump rope tournament. “I love coaching the kids, and I can’t image not doing it,” she said. “I am now seeing second-generation children.”
The jumpers range in age from third-graders through high schoolers. The members heading to New York are from Franklin Central and Center Grove highs. They all won’t have stage fright as some participated in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
With the exception of two weeks off in July, the team practices twice a week year-round for its three competitions while performing about 40 shows annually, including halftime routines at basketball games for the Indiana Pacers, Indiana Hoosiers and Purdue.
Although practice doesn’t start until 5:30 p.m., members often arrive early to work on their routines or speed and endurance.
Kole Idele and Dante Agresta were doing triples (rope passes under their feet three times for each jump) at a recent practice. “I can do up to 75 before getting tired,” said Idele, who was also doing some quads.
Glover, who beams with pride when talking about her jumpers, received the Rev. Charles Williams Award in 2010 for her service to youths.
“We have world champion jumpers here,” she said. “These are some of the best jumpers in the world. All of these kids are in great shape.”
Glover is assisted in her coaching duties by Valerie Rice, a former jumper, and Bev Jaggers.
While Glover has a special place in her heart for all of her jumpers, they think the world of her, saying, “She has really impacted our lives in many special ways.”