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Thomson youngster to dance in Disney Christmas parade

When the Cody family sits down to watch the Disney Christmas parade on television this year, it won't be just to get into the holiday spirit.

Gena Cody, the eight-year-old daughter of Brian and Lisa Cody of Thomson, will be one of 300 dancers from 13 studios across the country performing in Disney's Dance the Magic Holiday Parade.

"I feel really excited," Gena said. "It's some place I've never gone before, and I'm the only girl from McDuffie County that's going."

The event - hosted by Ryan Seacrest - will be filmed at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. on Nov. 11 and will air on ABC Christmas Day. This marks the second year in a row that a dance student of Cindy Wilson's will perform in a Disney Christmas parade.

Mrs. Wilson's students participated in the parade at Disneyworld in Orlando, Fla. last year. Because of their outstanding performance, they received an invitation for this year's event at Disneyland.

"I think they did exceptionally well," Mrs. Wilson said of last year's group. "We were behaved right, and we had the ability to do the dance."

Because of the distance and the short notice, Gena is the only one that is able to attend this year. Her parents are proud of Gena and all the hard work she has put into learning the dance in only four short weeks.

"When she got the opportunity to go to the one in California, I knew we had to do it," Mr. Cody said.

"She really understands how, not only is she dancing, but how she's representing her school, her church, her town. Those are things she said," Mrs. Cody said. "...So that's thinking kind of big for an eight-year-old."

But thinking and dancing big is normal for Gena, according to her teacher.

"She's just a very exceptional child," Mrs. Wilson said. "...She's had to take a lot of pressure and slack from me. She probably hates me most of the time lately, but I told her 'You know I only have you to pick on this time.'"

Mrs. Wilson teaches jazz dance to what she calls her "Disney group." The dancers that participated in last year's parade are girls seven-years and older. This event should be even more special for Gena, Mrs. Wilson said

"It's going to be an experience that she'll never forget because not everybody gets to be in the opening of a Christmas parade, especially when it's going to be on (television) Christmas morning," she said.

After the excitement is over, Gena plans on coming home and continuing to learn more about dance. She has already been dancing five years, and she said it's something she truly enjoys.

Web posted on Thursday, November 02, 2006

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