They planned for it for almost a year.
They practiced and honed their skills in preparation for one day, one parade, one trip of a lifetime.
To say the students were excited would be an understatement.
For 10 Douglas High School students, last week was one they will remember for the rest of their lives. The trip started the weekend before Thanksgiving and ended the weekend after. Ten students from Douglas joined the Wyoming All-State Marching Band in a cross country trip to New York City and Philadelphia.
The goal was marching in the Philadelphia Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“It was a trip of a lifetime,” senior Cadey Barney said.
Their former band director Ron Wagner had recommended the students from Douglas for the Wyoming All-State Marching Band before leaving his position.
That was the first step. They still had to make a tape and send it in as an audition: The Philadelphia parade liked what they saw, and sent an invite.
There were a lot of practices, fundraising, camps and performances before the big Thanksgiving Day parade.
“We went to a camp in Powell where we had to march 11 miles a day,” senior Hailey Moss said. “We also marched in parades in Cody twice, Cheyenne, Sheridan and Rock Springs.”
This was the 99th year for the parade in Philadelphia and the band from Wyoming was at the head, leading the parade through the streets of downtown on Thanksgiving morning.
“It was cold,” sophomore Tara Wagner said. “The biggest challenge was keeping warm and keeping our instruments tuned.”
While the parade was just one day, the rest of the time the students had a chance to tour sites in New York City and Philadelphia.
“We were busy all day,” Barney said. “We saw as many things as we could. Most days we didn’t get back to our hotel until 9 p.m.”
Their last practice was on Sunday before their instruments were loaded onto a semi-truck to be transported to Philadelphia.
The Wyoming kids got to tour a lot during their trip including a visit to Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Memorial.
“I was so excited to see the 9/11 Memorial and wish we had more time there,” Barney said. “But it’s something I can cross off my bucket list.”
In order to go east students had to raise funds for the cost of travel and hotel.
“We worked at Pizza Hut twice, sold Little Caesars Pizza and did regional basketball ticket sales,” Moss said.
Their time in Philadelphia also included siteseeing and touring historic places like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
“I even got to run up the Rocky stairs,” Moss said, talking about the famous steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, made famous by the Sylvester Stallone movie.
Out of the 10 students from Douglas, half are seniors and were excited to have this trip as part of their final year in school.
Memories were made, laughs were had and for some this was the first time they travelled so far from home.
“We made new friends from all over the state,” Barney said. “We (the students from Douglas) also spent a lot of time together and we became a family.”