The Bald Eagle Area marching band earned one of the coveted chances to perform in the nation's capital Wednesday during the National Independence Day Parade. And they have the "perfect spot" in the lineup, according to band director Kellie Long.
Following closely behind Miss USA, 56 members of the band will march about a mile down Constitution Avenue playing "Spirit of America," a compilation of patriotic music. As No. 74 out of the 120 groups in the parade, the BEA marching band will be spotted toward the end, Long said. The parade starts at 11:45 a.m. and ends at about 2 p.m.
"Being in the nation’s capital on the Fourth of July, I don’t think it gets much better than that," Long said.
Washington D.C. will reach 92 degrees Wednesday with a real feel of 102 degrees, according to AccuWeather. Junior Nick McClellan said it won't be easy to march in that heat while decked out in full uniform, but they'll push through.
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"It’s going to be really hot, which I’m not excited for. But I’m pretty confident in our band because we’ve been practicing really hard, and we’re definitely ready for this," said McClellan, who plays the alto saxophone.
The band members found out they were chosen for the parade about six months ago and have been practicing in the high school parking lot twice a week since late May, Long said.
This isn't the first time the BEA band has taken the national stage. It last participated in the D.C. parade in 2012, and most recently marched in the New York City Veterans Day Parade in 2015.
The band left for D.C. early Tuesday morning in order to participate in the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Band members selected two of their classmates to lay down a wreath during the event: recent grads Jake Michael and Tony Talarigo.
In addition to the parade, the band will watch the fireworks show and do plenty of sightseeing. Senior Vanessa Stasko, who plays the piccolo, said she's most looking forward to sharing the experience with her bandmates.
“It’s not just a band, it’s a family,” Stasko said.
Those who won't be in D.C. for the festivities can watch a recording of the parade at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTpAvFXTnftJoh8F-bITjww.