ALEXANDRIA, VA—The Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade in Honolulu, HI is a meaningful event for Americans everywhere. Alexandria resident Dani Salinas, a cheerleader at Bishop O’Connell High School, had the honor of traveling there to participate in the event as the lone representative of her high school and hometown.
The Zebra interviewed Salinas, 17, at length about the experience. When asked about the tryout stages, she said, “My team participated in the UCA camp held at JMU. We [tried] out to be an ‘All-American,’ [ which is] hosted by Varsity Spirit,” she said. “Being an All-American cheerleader or dancer opens up opportunities to represent your school in special events like the [parade].”
Varsity Spirit is an assemblage of cheerleaders from all 50 states. Salinas mentioned how wonderful it was to meet other cheerleaders and dancers from around the U.S.
“All this took place while working with top-tier coaches and making friends from all over the country,” she recalled. “It was so much fun getting to know girls and guys from places like Wyoming and Nebraska, and hearing so many diverse accents.”
The parade, held Dec. 7 every year, welcomed a diverse crowd, cheering along with the performers while some tourists stopped to stare. Taryn Salinas, Dani’s mother, when recalling the scene said , “The tourists… I think they’ve seen American cheerleaders in movies, but to see an army of them pumping their pom-poms down the street to blasting music made a huge impression!”
Onlookers numbering in the thousands watched as it wound through the streets in a route 1.2 miles long. Out of necessity, the cheerleaders had to break into four smaller groups.
The purpose of the event is to remember our beloved military veterans, who have given so much in serving our great nation. It is a heartwarming opportunity to show respect and gratitude to these heroes, who are with us in both body and spirit.
The young ladies of the Varsity Spirit squad found it exhilarating to be recognized for their hard work and dedication. Salinas has no doubt the experience will stay with them for the rest of their lives
“Taking part in this year’s Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade was an unbelievably moving and thrilling experience,” she said. “We worked hard to bring excitement and energy, always keeping in mind the unforgettable service and sacrifices of our veterans and Armed Forces.”
Salinas shared that event organizers planned a visit to Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu. There, the group toured the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites Visitor Center.
“Learning about what the crew members endured when the USS Arizona was bombed and sank will stay with me forever,“ she said.
This report has been updated. In the original version, Dani Salinas was one of five cheerleaders from her school, when in fact, she was the only representative.