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Look for Austinite in Macy's parade

Sarah Beckham

Among those scheduled to perform Thursday, Nov. 25, at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade are Julie Andrews, Gloria Estefan, Renee Fleming — and Rachel Ravel.

Rachel, an eighth-grader at St. Francis School in Austin, will be one of 80 kids featured on OfficeMax's "Elves Raise the Roof" float. She was picked from about 400 students who have studied at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in New York. Rachel is a four-summer veteran of Stagedoor camp, whose alumni include Natalie Portman and Lea Michele of "Glee."

Rachel, the daughter of Suzanne and Steve Ravel, has a work ethic that would intimidate even Michele's ambitious character, Rachel Berry. She does theater, voice and dance activities every day after school and on Saturdays, her mom says. She's preparing for "Magic in Manhattan" with Ballet Austin and "Chicago" with Kids Acting.

"Whenever I have free time, I'm always memorizing my lines or doing my homework," Rachel says.

Rachel went to New York about a month ago to be part of the group of about 20 kids recording the vocal track for the float. She and her family went back on Saturday for parade rehearsals and costume fittings — and to catch a couple of Broadway shows. As one of the elves, Rachel will be singing and dancing on the float. She's excited to see her friends from Stagedoor and to be in the city where she hopes her name will be in lights one day.

"Being on Broadway is my dream," Rachel says.

The parade also will include the casts of shows including "American Idiot," "Elf," "Memphis" and "Million Dollar Quartet."

The 84th parade, a quintessential part of the city's calendar, sends marchers, celebrities, performers, floats and giant balloons across the city's streets and avenues, starting on Central Park West and ending in front of Macy's on 34th Street.

Among the new giant balloons taking to the sky for the first time this year will be Kool-Aid Man, Kung-Fu Panda, and one in the animated image of Virginia O' Hanlon. O'Hanlon was the little girl who wrote to a newspaper asking if Santa Claus was real. The editor's response became famous — "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

Additional information from wire services.

'Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade': 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 25, on NBC, KXAN Channel 36