You couldn't fault Jackie Tracy of Palmerton for delaying the family's traditional Thanksgiving Day meal for a bit on Thursday.
The Palmerton Area Junior High School student spent the first part of her day marching with the Universal Cheerleaders Association through the heart of historic Philadelphia in the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the nation. The daughter of Jamie and Jonice Tracy of Kunkletown, Jackie was honored to be one of over 500 junior high and high school cheerleaders and dancers from across the country who performed in the parade.
Before she and her family left for the parade, Jackie said she was anxious to fulfill her dream.
"I'm going to try to make the best of it," said Jackie, 13. "I feel it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something like this."
An eighth-grade student, Jackie learned that she had been selected for the distinction after a tryout at a summer camp she attended.
"One of the UCA instructors had a tryout for it," she said. "I tried out and made it, and was very surprised and proud for myself."
Jackie who is also involved in cheering, cross country, and serves as track manager, gave credit to Nicki Herbert, her junior high cheering squad coach.
A member at Dedicated Fitness in Palmerton, Jackie has attended Tumble with Denise in Lehighton since the age of 6, where she was on the Elite gymnastic team.
The individuals invited to perform in Thursday's parade were cheerleading and dance All Americans selected from varsity camps around the country, including camps organized by Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA), Universal Dance Association (UDA), National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) and National Dance Alliance (NDA).
The event – which was open to cheerleaders in fourth grade and older – was televised in the Philadelphia area and syndicated throughout the country.
The UCA was founded in 1974 by Jeff Webb to provide high quality educational training for college and high school cheerleaders through summer camps and clinics on college campus.
The Varsity All-American program is celebrating its 25th year.