By Caitlin Rickard
Briawna Wood will be celebrating Thanksgiving a little differently this year.
Wood, an eighth-grader at Winfree Bryant Middle School, is set to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday at the happiest place on earth and perform in the Thanksgiving Day Parade at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.
Wood is one of more than 500 elementary, junior high and high school cheerleaders and dancers from across the country who will perform in the 2013 Universal Cheerleaders Association and Universal Dancers Association Thanksgiving Tour at Disney World.
Wood said the opportunity came about after UCA came to her school to hold a cheerleading camp last summer, and she was chosen as an “All-American.”
Allison Burruss, Ashley Grimes and McKenzie Carlton were also chosen from Winfree Bryant, but chose not to travel to Disney World.
According to UCA, All-Americans are chosen by tryouts and are based on superior cheerleading, and only the top 12 percent of the cheerleaders from UCA camps get the chance to participate in a holiday parade of this capacity. This is the 27th year UCA and UDA has chosen All-American camp standouts.
Wood said she received a medal and a badge recognizing her as All-American and also received a pamphlet that offered her the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving at Disney World.
Wood said she, along with her mom and dad, would leave for their holiday vacation Monday and return late Friday.
“We were sent a DVD of our routine to learn by ourselves and a uniform and pom poms,” Wood said.
Wood said Tuesday and Wednesday they would practice their routine as a whole in a certain park in Disney World and afterward would be able to spend their free time enjoying the parks.
The parade would then take place at the Magic Kingdom Park on Thursday morning on Thanksgiving Day. Afterward, Wood said all the participants would enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together.
According to Wood, she has participated in All-Star cheerleading competitions for the past six or seven years and has been on the school cheerleading squad since sixth grade, the grade when cheerleading first is offered.
She is now the captain of the Winfree Bryant cheerleading squad.
Wood also said this would be her first time getting back in action since breaking both bones in her right arm, putting her out for 12 weeks.
Of all things, Wood said she broke it cheerleading, while attempting a back tuck.
As Wood gears up for her trip, though she said she has been to Disney World before, she said she is still “really excited” to get the opportunity to go again and especially spend the holidays there.
“My family usually stays at home, and my mom cooks, and I watch all the parades on TV,” Wood said.
This year, however, Wood will be participating in a parade of her own.