By Sherrie Norris
In March, they were performing at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland, known as one of the largest, if not the largest, events of its kind in the world.
In just a few days, cloggers representing High Country Dance Studio in Boone will be reaching another incredible milestone as they travel to Washington DC to perform in the 2022 National Independence Day Parade. What better place and time to celebrate America’s birthday than in the nation’s capital?
The dancers are so excited, said Vanessa Minton, who along with her daughter, Amber Hendley, continue to lead this troupe to greater heights than ever before.
“We love America and are proud to be Americans, representing not only North Carolina, but also the High Country at this event,” Minton said. “We are very patriotic and we want to wish our country a happy birthday. We want to help lift spirits and we want to see people happy again. We still live in the best country in the world and we want to celebrate all that’s good.”
Anyone who has followed the success of this high-energy dance team through the years, knows this is not the dancers’ first trip to DC. In fact, they made a huge impression upon thousands during the festivities surrounding the 2021 Presidential Inauguration in Washington.
This latest invitation will see the cloggers dancing their way deeper into the hearts of America, joining other invited groups from across the country — including national dignitaries and celebrity participants, marching bands, floats, military units, giant balloons and a mass of observers — to celebrate Independence Day in this patriotic celebration.
America’s National Independence Day Parade takes place annually on July 4th at 11:45 a.m. in Washington, D.C., on Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Street.
The parade is a major national event, according to Minton, and seeks to draw the attention of Americans to the real meaning for the holiday.
In addition to the parade, DC is filled with extraordinary opportunities for celebrating, Minton said, including a National Folklife Festival on the Mall, featuring various cultures in the Americas and a variety of ethnic groups.
On the evening following the parade, the dancers will be among other parade participants as audience members of the PBS Concert at the Capitol Building featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and one of the country’s largest fireworks displays.
As organizers will attest— and the excitement of the dancers confirm —there is no greater location displaying more excitement on America’s birthday than in our nation’s capital.
For months, Minton said, the dancers have been working on their routine, with the invitation coming in the midst of their preparation for their historic Ireland tour. This upcoming trip, which will be much shorter in distance and duration than their last, will allow for more of the dancers and their families to go. “We have worked hard to make sure this three-day trip will be a very affordable and a great experience for everyone who is able to join us,” Minton said. “Several of the dancers and their families have held fundraisers to make it all possible.”
Leaving town on motor coaches July 2 after dancing in a local parade, the group will enjoy guided tours of some of the capital’s most famous and historic sites, with Monday’s parade serving as the highlight of the entire trip.
It’s just one more “awesome opportunity” agreed Minton and Hendley, who put their heart and soul into this award winning dance troupe — and have done so for many years.
Minton started the original High Country Cloggers in 1989 and has been kicking it up a notch or two every year since.
Blessed with great talent, stamina and leadership skills that she has passed on to her daughter, Minton humbly stated, “I am thankful that Amber has picked up the torch and carries it so well. She leads the way and opens the door for us. We just follow.”
Minton adds, “We have built lifelong relationships and friendships with some awesome people. We are so thankful to be a part of this group, and we’re honored to share these memorable experiences with some of our best friends and teammates.”
The parade is co-hosted by the National Park Service and produced by Diversified Events, which is under contract to the National Park Service.
The entire event will be streamed on the National Independence Day Parade Facebook page LIVE at 11:45 AM (Eastern), and on its YouTube channel at 5 p.m.