St. James High School dance team looks to shine at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 7:13 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2023 at 7:15 PM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - A group of Horry County dancers is getting the opportunity of a lifetime next week.

With all eyes on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you’ll want to make sure you watch for a performance from St. James High School.

WMBF News got a behind-the-scenes look as the team has prepared and what they looked forward to most.

“It tops off the whole chapter that I’m ending my high school career with,” said Brianna Critelli, an SJHS senior.

Critelli is one of 17 dancers on the Sharkies Dance team and said she’s excited to head to New York City with her team.

“There’s no ‘I’ in team, so we’re all doing it together, we all dance as one, and we’ve all worked so hard to get to this spot,” said Critelli.

The team auditioned and got a call back in the summer. Since then, they’ve been perfecting their routines with a few new changes.

“We’ve combined JV and Varsity, and it’s probably the best decision our coach has ever made,” said Isabelle Lewis, another SJHS senior.

“A lot of hard work and dedication goes into something like this, we practice almost four days a week,” added fellow senior McKinsey Wright.

Aside from hours of practice, you can only imagine what’s on the dancers’ minds.

“I used to live in [New] Jersey, and coming here, I would never think in a million years would I actually be in that parade since I was born” said Critelli.

“I’m excited just to dance, but I’m also ready for the hotdog stands,” said Wright.

“Last year, my family and I were talking about how cool it would be if I ever danced in the Macy’s Day Parade, and this year was the year, and I just didn’t see it coming,” said Grace Burzler, another SJHS senior.

That full circle moment isn’t just hitting home for the dancers when they practice.

It’s something the team’s coach, Macy Mikolajczyk, is also feeling as a former Sharkies dancer.

“To watch them get to experience what I was able to experience is almost surreal and I know the feelings of like soak it all in,” said Mikolajczyk.

The team is ready to embark on the journey, which for some is just the beginning.

“I’m just very excited to spend time with my team since most of them are leaving and graduating next year it’s just going to be a very fun team bonding experience,” said SJHS junior Ava Heisie.

“It’s like heartbreaking but heartwarming....moving into a new chapter in my life,” said Critelli.

WMBF News will air NBC’s live coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade starting at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 23.

Stay with WMBF News for updates.