A ‘singing Christmas tree’ in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade had a special connection to Hauula

A ‘singing Christmas tree’ in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade had a special connection to Hauula

NEW YORK CITY (HawaiiNewsNow) - King’s Hawaiian wasn’t the only float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with Hawaii ties this year.

The Macy’s “Singing Christmas Tree” featured two singers from the islands. One of them, Umi Jensen, braved the cold and was selected as one of the chorale singers placed on the actual float alongside singers from across the country.

Umi Jensen throws up a shaka in front of the holiday float in NYC.
Umi Jensen throws up a shaka in front of the holiday float in NYC.

“There’s a 110 of us and it’s just been a blur,” Jensen said in a phone interview with Hawaii News Now after the parade. “A lot of singing — almost 16 hours of practice. It’s cold. I don’t know what time it is, my body’s confused,” she joked.

Out of the 110 singers, only a handful are chosen for a spot on the float, which resembles a tree.

For Jensen, it was her first time participating in the parade.

She said she auditioned for the unit through work. She’s worked as a Delta customer service agent for the last eight years and decided to give it a try when she heard Delta partnered with Macy’s to organize the unit.

She found out she was going to be in the parade in June, and started learning the music just last month.

Jensen snaps a quick selfie with the 'Singing Christmas Tree' in the background.
Jensen snaps a quick selfie with the 'Singing Christmas Tree' in the background.

“It was a really great experience,” she said. “We got into practice and the caliber of people that were chosen, they’re pretty good singers and so it was very easy for us to go through the pieces."

Jensen has been singing all her life. Daughter of local musician Henry Ulii, Jensen has been a part of choirs, A capella groups and the Kamehameha Concert Glee club for several years.

“Ever since then, I’ve been singing in church choirs and whenever I can have the opportunity, like karaoke, I love it,” she added.

From a very chilly New York City, Jensen sent her love back to friends and family in Hawaii, especially her neighborhood of Hauula. Some of her friends even watched the parade together to try and spot Jensen.

“Despite the cold, it was so amazing to see little children and big children and big adults just bundled all up. People up in the high-rises peering out of windows, it was such an energetic experience," she said.

“I’m just so happy to be a part of it and really, we all need to just have joy and love during this holiday season,” she added.

Other Hawaii residents also participate in the parade. Various marching band students and other entertainers have graced the parade route in recent years.

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