Trio of Huntington North cheerleaders gain elite entry to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NY

Huntington North High School varsity cheerleaders (from left) Dylinn Hertel, Lauryne Pearson and Arianna Betterly are headed to New York City this November to march and cheer in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The three juniors each tried out individually for the opportunity to join the All American Cheerleaders in this year’s parade. The trio will be the only high school cheerleaders from Indiana to appear at the event.
Huntington North High School varsity cheerleaders (from left) Dylinn Hertel, Lauryne Pearson and Arianna Betterly are headed to New York City this November to march and cheer in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The three juniors each tried out individually for the opportunity to join the All American Cheerleaders in this year’s parade. The trio will be the only high school cheerleaders from Indiana to appear at the event. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Three Huntington North High School varsity cheerleaders are not only going to represent their school in a nationally televised parade this fall, but they will have the distinction of being the only high school cheerleaders from Indiana to appear at the event.

Arianna Betterly, Dylinn Hertel and Lauryne Pearson, all HNHS juniors, were selected to march and cheer in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, held in New York City on Nov. 28.

It all started when the three attended a camp with the HNHS cheer team this summer at Manchester University, run by an organization called Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA). During the three-day camp the attendees were given a chance to audition to be chosen as an “All American” cheerleader. The three girls were among those who made it in.

“On the final day we had an overall, basically, competition, but it was each of the schools that had come to the camp,” Betterly says.
“It was more like recognizing us for our hard work that we achieved for that weekend,” Hertel adds.

As All Americans, Betterly, Hertel and Pearson were invited to walk with about 15 other All American cheerleaders from the camp in the New Year’s Day Parade in London, England, on Jan. 1. But there were a few snags holding them back from making the trip, not the least of which was the cost to travel overseas.

“As a family, we decided to explore an option closer to home,” explains Pearson’s dad, David Pearson. “In the recent past UCA had connections with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and All American Cheerleaders were given the option to walk in this parade rather than the London parade. So, after doing some internet research we discovered that Spirit of America is now the organization connecting cheerleaders to the parade through an audition process completely unrelated to UCA.”

Lauryne Pearson talked it over with Betterly and Hertel and they started to become excited about the possibility of cheering in the parade, rather than just giving up on going to London and leaving it at that.

“New York City and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is obviously very well known,” Betterly adds, “It’s also a lot more expensive to go overseas to London.”
But because the Macy’s parade All American organizers are different, all three girls were required to audition a second time, this time for Spirit of America, in order to be invited to participate. The night they got home from camp they each made and submitted individual videos of themselves doing cheers to send to Spirit of America, which is not tied in with the UCA organization.

“I put my uniform back on and I was like, let’s just do it,” Pearson says. “I did a workout in my basement, and I was very sore.”

“It was definitely out of my comfort zone,” Betterly adds. “I had my brother in the backyard recording me, and he was like, ‘No no no! Do that again!’ It was a couple of times.”

Their sacrifice paid off. In less than 24 hours the three received word they had also been selected to cheer in the upcoming Thanksgiving Day parade.
“It’s just so exciting,” Betterly says. “The anticipation is high, because I don’t think any of us have been to New York before, so we don’t really know what to expect, but that’s the thing that’s so exciting about it.”

In the Macy’s parade, the girls will be part of a 500-person cheerleading unit, who will wear the All American uniforms and do several chant and cheer routines as a group along the parade route.

They will soon receive a package containing a special All American Cheerleader uniform, plus a video on the routines the cheerleaders will do together in the parade.

Hertel and her mother and Betterly, her mom and sister all plan to fly to New York City, while Pearson will travel by car with her family. The girls will stay together in a “quad” room in New York with a fourth cheerleader.

As a side note, their roommate is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, the scene of a tragic shooting on Feb. 14, 2018, in which 17 people were killed. The girls are looking forward to meeting her.

“I think it’s really interesting,” Pearson says. “I’m excited to get to know someone that’s going to be in my room. I like making new friends.”

“I agree,” Betterly says. “It’s going to be so different from where we live, obviously, from Florida.”

“We saw that all over the news,” Hertel adds, “and now we’re actually meeting somebody that goes to that school.”

Besides participating in the parade on Thanksgiving Day, the cheerleaders will have plenty of free time to take on some activities in the Big Apple, including attending a Broadway show, taking a ferry ride, visiting the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial and the Empire State Building, and maybe even get in some ice skating. But their favorite activity by far will be going to see the Radio City Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular performance – unless it’s shopping.

Betterly, Hertel and Pearson have been cheerleaders together since their days at Crestview Middle School, when they began cheering in seventh grade. They’ve been great friends ever since.

“We’re just really proud,” David Pearson says. “I think I can speak for all their families. It’s a really proud moment, not only for us but also for our community to have the representation. It’s a big stage, and that parade is seen by millions of people every year.”

Lauryne Pearson says she’s excited at the prospect of soaking up the whole New York experience.

“It’s just extra special, at least to me, because it’s through Macy’s, and I’m there representing cheer and the Macy’s parade, especially since I get to do it with all my friends and family,” she adds.

Likewise, Betterly and Hertel are also stoked to make the trip and represent not only Huntington North, but Indiana.

“I just feel like it’s going to be an experience that I won’t ever forget,” Betterly says. “I’m so thankful I get to do it with girls I’ve been friends with for so long and been cheering with for so long. I already know it’s going to be an experience of a lifetime.”

“I grew up watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and the cheerleaders go by and I always thought it was so cool,” Hertel says. “Now we’re going to be one of them. … It’s so cool.”