Game Eight…The Thanksgiving Game!
For a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, there is nothing like the Thanksgiving Game – friends, family, football and FUN!
This game was two weeks in the making for us, and months of preparation for the Jones family, Kelli and Judy, and the talented production team from Corporate Magic, as they began discussing, planning, collaborating and producing the 2011 halftime show (even before Enrique and Pitbull were solidified as performers).
While obviously the main focus for the Thanksgiving game is the halftime show, and kicking off The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, there are so many other elements in the game (and the week, for that matter) that require the same level of intensity and planning. And right in the mix of the festivities are the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders!
Press Conferences & Media Events …
In officially announcing Enrique Iglesias as the 2011 halftime performer, Kelsi Reich and Lauren Williams had the experience of a lifetime flying to New York City with Charlotte Jones Anderson to meet the singing sensation. They participated in the press conference and subsequent media events at Madison Square Garden that created international buzz for the highly-anticipated Thanksgiving halftime show. (They even rode in the Jones’ private plane … whoa!)
Public Service Announcements …
Thanksgiving week, a few of us had the opportunity to join the Jones family and Cowboys players and staff in filming the pre-halftime public service announcement. Since its original airing on game day, the video has circulated the web in the hopes of raising awareness (and dollars) for the Salvation Army.
Production Rehearsals …
The week leading up to the game, Charlotte, Kelli, Judy, Corporate Magic and the featured entertainers’ representation conduct production rehearsals, previewing and perfecting all of the elements of the halftime show – lighting, staging, DCC presence, extras, pyro, smoke, etc. The day before Thanksgiving is when all of these elements are finally combined with the featured entertainer for the BIG picture. It’s an all-day rehearsal for everyone, and for us, it’s a full day of non-stop dancing! Every year we jokingly discuss how it’s our way of “earning” our multiple Thanksgiving Day meals.
Pre-Recorded, Halftime Video Components …
Another responsibility for the DCC the day before Thanksgiving is participating in pre-recorded video components that lead into the live halftime show. Select DCC are given the opportunity to stand side-by-side with the Jones family as they demonstrate the “kettle drop,” the famous dropping of money into the iconic red kettles. (Look for DCC around the :40 mark in the halftime video below.)
DCC Gameday …
Before I get into what dances we did, I know many of ya’ll are curious as to how we celebrate Thanksgiving as a team. And the best answer I can give you is … with FOOD! Another reason why we LOVE the Thanksgiving Game is because of the feast that Legends Catering prepares for us on game day, complete with all the fixin’s: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pies and casseroles galore!
Once everyone has their (first) plate of food, we sit in a big circle and eat Thanksgiving breakfast/lunch/dinner together as a family. This year, we integrated the Gameday Girl reveal into our family meal, and began going around the circle stating what we were thankful for this holiday season. As we went around the circle, we got to Cassie Trammell (who was sitting beside her best friend, Melissa Kellerman), when stating what she was thankful for, she … well, why don’t you just watch and see what happens:
— insert video —
Congratulations, Melissa on your first career Gameday Girl! Yaaaaaay!
After we had our Thanksgiving locker room fun, it was time to concentrate on all of our performances for the game:
Plaza Performance – Group Four, “Papi” by Jennifer Lopez (NEW to our playlist!)
Pregame – “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC
1st Quarter – “She’s Country” by Jason Aldean
2nd Quarter – “Papi” by Jennifer Lopez
3rd Quarter – “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5, featuring Christina Aguilera
4th Quarter – “Favorite DJ” by Clinton Sparks, featuring DJ Class and Jermaine Dupri
I’m sure you’ve already heard, but a little fourth quarter surprise (that was scary at the time) was the accidental run-in between Jason Witten and our very own Gameday Girl, Melissa. Thankfully she was okay, Jason apologized and we ALL have a funny story to re-tell for seasons to come!
Finally, THE HALFTIME SHOW!
By now you may have already seen the halftime show, but just in case you want to re-live the excitement and take a closer look in the hopes of catching your favorite DCC, here you go:
— halftime video —
Whether you’re a Rookie or a Veteran, the Thanksgiving Game is always special and memorable. This year was nothing short of just that!
As this was my fifth Thanksgiving halftime show, I can honestly say this was the most electrifying, exciting, energized and memorable performance of my career! When the seven or so minutes were over, I wasn’t even tired. I was on such a high and wished that Enrique and Pitbull could’ve thrown in a bonus song. Wow! The fact that the game was so close, we won AND we had an amazing halftime … this game is one I will never forget.
As for third-year Veteran, Mia Greenhouse …
So many things happened at this Thanksgiving game that made it so memorable and equally hilarious! First of all, we won; second, Enrique’s halftime was awesome; and third, Melissa got tackled by Witten (glad she’s OK, though).
This game was so exciting down to the last second, literally! I was shaking in my boots waiting on the deciding field goal, which was kicked right in front of me as we were on the deck. Talk about chills! I got so excited I nearly slipped on our slightly sloped touchdown deck.
And the halftime, oh my goodness. I got the biggest adrenaline rush. Pitbull and Enrique were awesome and the whole vibe of the performance was incredible. A funny behind-the-scenes moment from the show is that those huge Enrique white balloons kept flying at us and hitting us, so we would secretly smack them away with our dance moves! Ha!
I will never forget this game and am so grateful for being able to have these experiences alongside my best friends. In my opinion, best game to date! So much fun.
According to Rookie DCC, Courtney Cook …
My first Thanksgiving as a DCC was so much fun. This game came a close second behind my very first game, “Monday Night Football” against the Redskins, as being my favorite game. The DCC locker room had a special buzz, and I think the fans were having almost as much fun as I was. I was inches away from the best hit of the season, Jason Witten taking down our Gameday Girl Melissa! To top it off, I got to cheer in the end zone of the game-winning field goal.
I was so happy that both my parents and sisters were able to come from Utah and see me. I have always been an Enrique fan, and getting to perform with Pitbull added even more excitement to the show. I have been dreaming of cheering in Cowboys Stadium on Thanksgiving for years, and it was even more amazing than I could have ever imagined.
Whew! This turned out to be a rather lengthy blog. Hope ya’ll enjoyed an inside look into our Thanksgiving, DCC style.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are truly grateful for YOU, our fans, friends and family! Thanks for your continued support and for being our cheerleaders!