McALESTER — Having been on the varsity squad as a freshman last year, McAlester cheerleader Allison Merrifield has already made some great memories. Cheer camps, Friday night football games, regional and state competitions — all experiences Merrifield is sure to cherish.
But all those experiences might get topped Wednesday, when Merrifield marches in the London New Year’s Day Parade.
Merrifield, a 15-year-old sophomore on the junior varsity squad this year, will be one of 500 cheerleaders and dancers selected by Varsity, the parent organization of groups such as the Universal Cheerleaders Association, the Universal Dance Association and the National Dance Alliance. Merrifield became eligible for the parade by being named an All American at a UCA cheer camp in which the Lady Buffs participated in June at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.
“It was pretty tiring, the hot weather,” Merrifield said of the camp Thursday.
“I was pretty happy. I was the only one that made it on JV.”
Once Merrifield earned All American status and sent in the appropriate forms, she said, she had to raise the $3,500 fee for the parade. Donna Haynes, Merrifield’s mother, said Merrifield raised the money through “a lot of dedication.”
That dedication included working at Braum’s and cleaning offices on the side. Merrifield also ran a very successful “traveling flamingos” fundraiser in which inflatable pink flamingos were placed on people’s lawns, then people paid to have them moved to other lawns or removed.
“For the most part everyone participated, and with that fundraiser she raised probably close to $700, $800,” Haynes said.
Haynes added that Merrifield also raised funds through family, friends, other members of her church community at The King’s House in McAlester, and Haynes’ colleagues at the Center for Change in McAlester. Haynes is a behavioral rehabilitation specialist and case manager at the Center for Change.