CISCO, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Thanksgiving traditions can vary from state-to-state, and even family-to-family. For two Cisco sisters, the holiday brings to mind a particularly fond shared memory. Margaret McKinney and Claudia Yeager were two of a large group of small-town Texans who marched in the 58th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1984.

“It was my freshman year in college, and I tried out for, and made, the Wrangler Belles team… And I knew it was their year to go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” recalled McKinney.

Cisco Junior College Wrangler Belles kick line (1984)

Although Yeager wasn’t a Wrangler Bell, she was able to go thanks to some help from the band directors at Cisco Junior College Eastland High School – the school where she had recently began teaching.

“I told some of my co-workers that my sister was going to get to march in the parade. The band director spoke with the college director and found out they needed somebody to carry the United States flag,” Yeager recounted of how she made her way to the big city.

Yeager (center) carries the United States Flag at the 58th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (Nov. 22, 1984)

After some marching lessons and borrowing a very southern-looking band uniform, Yeager was able to march alongside her sister, and give New York City a taste of Texas.

“All of the people in New York really liked seeing Texans,” Yeager said.

McKinney continued her sister’s train of thought, “We had to Yee-Haw, and we had to wear cowboy hats and boots.”

Although this was many of the small-town Wrangler Belles’ first time in New York City, it was also many New Yorkers’ first time to see and hear a real live Texan.

“I had two different radio guys come try to interview me while we were marching, and they just wanted us to talk for our accents,” fellow Wrangler Bell, Jana Huggins remembered.

McKinney (left) and Huggins (Right, background)

Huggins was a sophomore in 1984. She told KTAB/KRBC that, despite their southern charm and warm smiles, the weather was anything but.

“It was freezing! It should have been snow up to here, y’know,” Huggins said, “but us Texas girls didn’t get that.”

The weather that day wasn’t the only oddity the team faced during their time up north. They found one night that New York cooking just isn’t the same as what they were used to, even on Thanksgiving.

“It was not my preference, but it was theirs, and that’s okay,” said Yeager.

Huggins, with a different recollection of the meal, laughed, “It was terrible! They had weeds in the green beans, and regular bread stuffing instead of cornbread stuffing.”

Culinary differences aside, the women agreed the sights were really something to behold. From their trip to a Broadway show, to celebrity sightings during the parade.

“There, beside us, was this float with John Snyder from the Dukes of Hazard… And then one came by and there was Marie Osmond,” McKinney listed. “And so, it was pretty cool to see all those celebrities so close.”

These memories the 1984-1985 Wrangler Belles team, plus a lucky young teacher, made have lasted far beyond the trip. Huggins said she shares the video every year, and she and her fellow belles often recall the good times they had.

Reunion of some 1984 Wrangler Belles

“We still get together and talk, and hang out,” Huggins explained. “Some of the girls were crying this year when they watched the video.”

Mickinney added, “All I have to do is hear that music, and you’re excited again… And you’re fun and you’re – you’re 18.”