There’s Victor Arden and Phil Ohman’s version of “I Love a Parade” and then there’s McKenzie Brooks.

Sure, the latter has a passion for the mobile pageantries, that’s a given, but how enthusiastic would the duo and their orchestra be if they were required to navigate through a parade route while wearing heels? And a formal dress? And a tiara?

kaufman scroggs logoThat was the scene for Brooks during this year’s Aberdeen Founders Day Parade. As reigning Miss Twin Harbor’s Outstanding Teen, Brooks was at the front of the parade, happily riding in a car and waving to the crowd.

While other participants rested upon reaching the end of the parade, Brooks’ day proved to be only half over as she also held the title of drum major for Aberdeen High School’s marching band.

“Luckily, we were towards the front of the parade and the band was in the back,” said Brooks, a senior at Aberdeen. “We just turned the car around and drove to the back where the band was. I just jumped out of the car and led the band. I was still in my heels and dress and had my tiara on. I actually loved every minute of it. It’s not that long of a parade route so that helped a lot.”

aberdeen drum major
As drum major, McKenzie Brooks gets to interact with all 80 members of the Aberdeen High School marching band.

The next parade Brooks will be in will be significantly larger. As part of being selected as an All-American drum major by the United Spirit Association, Brooks is headed to the United Kingdom to be part of the London’s New Year’s Day parade.

“I’ve never even thought about going to England before,” Brooks said. “There’s still so many places in America I need to visit. The idea of going to London never entered my mind, but it’s definitely going to be an amazing experience.”

London’s New Year’s Day Parade, inaugurated in 1987, attracts approximately 300 million viewers worldwide during its live televised broadcast.

Brooks will be joined by fellow All-American drum majors from around the country, as well as 10,000 additional performers from around the globe, as they meandered through Berkeley Street to Piccadilly Circus before ending in the West End of London.

Joining Brooks on the international trip will be her mother, Tammy, and brother, Spencer. The family leaves December 26 and returns January 2.

“It’s the best Christmas gift ever,” Brooks said. “I get to travel over there and do something I love while representing America.”

mckenzie brooks
McKenzie Brooks was crowned Miss Grays Harbor Outstanding Teen.

Brooks, who has been the Bobcats drum major for three years, earned the status of All-American in July after being selected one of only two recipients during a United Spirit Association drum major competition at Saint Martin’s University in June.

It was her third and final attempt at earning the honor.

“This is something I’ve dreamed about and worked for since I was sophomore,” Brooks said. “It was disappointing not being able to achieve it those first two years, but I think having that happen made this year mean more for me. Not getting (All-American) as a sophomore was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. It made me work harder and improve.”

The award is the highlight of a three-year run as the Bobcat’s drum major for Brooks, who was the first sophomore in 13 years to be named Aberdeen’s drum major.

“I was as shocked as anyone when that happened,” Brooks said. “I thought I would just try out and if I didn’t get it, the experience would help me the next year when I tried out. So much goes into being a drum major – a lot of things that people don’t know about. The biggest question I always get asked is, ‘How long have you been playing the drums.'”

Under the guidance of the band director, the drum major interacts with every member of the 80-piece marching band.

mckenzie brooks
McKenzie Brooks is headed to London to march in the New Year’s Day parade.

“That’s my favorite part about being a drum major, the relationships,” Brooks said. “I really am the only member of the band who gets to work with every member. If you play a certain instrument, you may not know everyone else. I get that privilege. The drum major also is involved with choreography and organizing fundraisers. There’s a lot of aspects I love about it.”

In addition to being named All-American drum major, Brooks was also 2014 Miss Grays Harbor’s Outstanding Teen, earning the chance to complete in the Miss Washington‘s Outstanding Teen where she finished as the second runner-up and was named the pageant’s best overall speaker.

Brooks has already been accepted to both Pacific Lutheran University and Western Washington University. She currently is leaning towards being a Lute, but says that could change in time.

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