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Brainerd alum sings in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Noah Barnhart, a 2020 graduate from Brainerd High School had the opportunity Nov. 24, 2022, to be in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Macy's employees seated on a Thanksgiving Day Parade float wave
Noah Barnhart, second from the left in the second row, participates Nov. 24, 2022, in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
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BRAINERD — New York City is a beacon for holiday activities like the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, the Rockefeller Christmas tree and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This year, Brainerd High School alum Noah Barnhart got to enjoy holiday festivities in person. Barnhart graduated from Brainerd in 2020 and moved to Fargo, North Dakota. There, he got a job as a sales floor captain for Macy’s, where he received the opportunity to sing on the Macy’s float in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

A family of 5 pose for a photo
Noah Barnhart, middle, his parents, his brother and his brother's girlfriend pose together in New York City after traveling there to watch Barnhart participate in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 24, 2022.
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Barnhart was involved with choir and theater in Brainerd. He partook in school theater productions as well as community productions. Out of all his acting in the Brainerd lakes area, Barnhart’s favorite production was “Grease” in 2018.

After moving to Fargo, Barnhart said he tried to find a balance between life and everything else that comes with it. He has been working and spending time with friends, but his coolest experience since leaving Brainerd happened on Thanksgiving.

Barnhart was talking to a coworker in July when they brought up auditions for the parade. He decided to take a chance and send in his audition. In August, he received the news he was going to be in New York over Thanksgiving.

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Barnhart was selected for the Singing Christmas Tree float in the parade, which first appeared in 2017. The float features a tiered structure covered with evergreen and holiday lights on which Macy’s employees are seated all the way to the top. The float was the last act before Santa Claus in this year’s parade.

“Returning to NYC for their fifth performance, they are back at it again with fresh faces & new voices who are ready to make their spectacular Parade appearance with another original song,” Macy’s website stated. “This new Parade tradition adds a little more magic to Thanksgiving morning.”

A group of Macy's employees stand in the street in New York City
A group of Macy's employees from all around the county, including Brainerd alum Noah Barnhart, gather to sing Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
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Barnhart used all of his experience from Brian Stubbs and Karla Shepherd-Johnson, his high school choir and theater teachers.

“Mr. Stubbs really trained us how to use our breath support, and just get our voices home to where we needed them to be so our choir sounded blended,” Barnhart said. “He really got everybody feeling comfortable with how their singing voices are.”

Shepherd-Johnson helped Barnhart add facial expressions, he said, like smiling with one’s eyes and looking energized.

Johnson had no idea Barnhart was going to be in the parade, but was not surprised to hear the news.

“Noah is very hardworking,” Johnson said. “Whatever challenge is put in front of him he takes it head on. And he's extremely gregarious, very sociable, and always has a smile on his face known as the epitome of optimism.”

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Barnhart arrived in New York on Nov. 21 and spent the first few days in long rehearsals. The first day, he had a 10-hour rehearsal with the 70 other Macy’s workers who were selected.

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However, the 70 other employees were not the only people to travel to New York with Barnhart. His parents made the trip out to see their son in the parade. His brother and brother’s girlfriend also took a train from Pennsylvania to New York to share the experience with him while his other two brothers watched from home.

Barnhart went from rehearsals all day to venturing out with the family at night. They were a 20-minute walk from Times Square and walked there the first and second night.

They also visited The Battery waterfront park, One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial. These were must-sees for Barnhart and his family and they got to visit all their must-see places, he said.

“(Having my family there) meant a lot, because they have always been there at every theater performance in Brainerd,” Barnhart said. “It was really nice to have them along. It was very comfortable. Also getting them to experience what I experienced while I was there was awesome.”

Even though the parade was about 2.5 hours, Barnhart said that time flew. He said he was grateful for the opportunity and will definitely apply again next year.

SARA GUYMON, Brainerd Dispatch staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5851 or sara.guymon@brainerddispatch.com.

Sara Guymon recently joined the Brainerd Dispatch as a staff writer.
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