By Heather Grossmann
HERALD SQUARE — The Thanksgiving Day Parade route may have changed this year, but organizers hope the magic is still the same.
And during Tuesday night's parade rehearsal here, the stars were out as final preparations were made for the annual Manhattan tradition.
Performers such as "American Idol's" Katherine McPhee, "30 Rock's" Jane Krakowski and the Radio City Rockettes were all there, but the big names weren't the only ones to watch.
Young performers from all across the country were also getting ready for their parade debuts.
“I’m a little nervous — I don’t want to mess up, so I just keep practicing and hopefully everything will come together,” said 17-year-old Alicia Bornstein, a Boca Raton, Fla. native who arrived in Manhattan to wave her pom-poms with the 750 other girls of the NCA All-American Cheerleading squad.
“It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she added.
The kids from Stagedoor Manor, a performing arts camp in the Catskills, will be performing a choreographed number to “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” They've flown in from 22 states and three countries.
“It’s quite a learning experience and quite a learning curve, but it’s been incredibly exhilarating for all these kids to have the opportunity to come here,” said Cindy Samuelson, who runs the camp.
“Coming to New York is a dream for them. They’ve watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade with their parents for years.”
Samuelson said more than 400 children applied for the 67 coveted parade spots.
Sascha Peralta-Ramos, 14, from Wyoming, was one of the lucky performers to land a role with Stagedoor.
“It’s kind of surreal, like I would watch it on TV and be like ‘Oh, that’s so awesome,’ but I never actually thought I’d actually do it!” said Peralta-Ramos.
While the performers were hard at work, scores of thrilled New Yorkers and tourists watched from behind the barricades that closed 34th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue.
Twelve-year-old Christian Stone of Colorado was treated to a performance by the Rockettes as he waited for his mom to finishing shopping at Macy’s.
Stone was impressed, “They can kick very high — and they’re very athletic!”
But when asked about his favorite part of Thanksgiving, he grinned. It's the turkey.