A member of the Mountainburg dance team participated in the Disney Parks Christmas Parade to be televised Christmas Day.
Koey Wilson, a senior and captain of the Mountainburg Dragon Flames, was one of more than 600 dancers who participated in the Dec. 7 parade at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
As part of the parade, Wilson walked, cheered and waved her way through Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom to the front of the castle, where she then helped perform a choreographed dance routine.
One of the highlights of the experience, Wilson said, was when all the dancers spontaneously stopped to sing "Happy Birthday" to a disabled girl who was visiting the park.
"All 600 of us just stopped and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to this girl, she was wearing a pin that said it was her birthday….and she started crying," Wilson said.
She also was able to connect with other dancers and make new friends, she said.
"I was really scared at first," Wilson said. Once I realized everyone was just as scared as I was, we became friends and it was really fun."
Wilson was able to participate in the parade after being nominated and qualifying as an All-American dancer at a National Dance Alliance Summer Camp.
With help from her fellow dance team members, Wilson raised the money to participate by having bake sales and football game drawings, she said.
All participants, originating from 36 states, were cheerleaders or dancers who qualified at a cheer or dance summer, according to a media release from the National Cheerleaders Association and National Dance Alliance.
Cheer participants had to receive an All-American Award, Top Team Award, or Champion Chant Award to qualify to attend and dance participants had to receive a Team Award, Team Leader Circle of Winners Award, All-American or Gold Recipient in Team Dance Circle of Winners.
In just two short practices, the group perfected what was a high-energy performance in the parade, which was watched by thousands of spectators and hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, the release states.
Neil Patrick Harris, Nick Cannon and television anchor Lara Spencer will host the "Disney Parks Christmas Parade" television special Christmas morning on ABC.