"This is a huge opportunity," said Enochs High School Drum Major Abigale McKinney. "The fact that we get to come together and create something that is so much bigger than ourselves, and bigger than our own school, is just so incredible."
On Sunday, students apart of the Modesto City Marching Brigade will head to Washington D.C. to participate in the country's largest Fourth of July parade.
"I think we’re one of the only bands from the state of California that will be represented at the parade," said Beyer High School Band Director Richard Winkler.
The band is one of only two from the state, and the only high school marching band from Northern California.
"It’s my first time doing something this big," said Beyer High School saxophone player Darin Bui.
The marching band and color guard were nominated by Congressman Josh Harder and selected by the National Independence Day Parade Selection Committee following a competitive application process.
"It’s a lot of work, but it’s going to be worth it in the end," added Bui.
The students have been practicing together since April.
"It’s really intense. It’s not for the faint of heart because yes, you have two practices a week, but the expectation is to practice daily whether it’s learning your marching, or honing your physical skills as well as music skills so it’s going to be a really great payoff, I think," added McKinney.
As part of the National Independence Day Parade, the band will march down Constitution Avenue, right past the White House, Washington Monument, and Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
"I can’t wait to go," said Gregori High School trumpet player Ethan Carter. "Playing in front of the White House is going to be really fun so I'm excited for it."
“It’s just such a big part of history," added McKinney.
During the five-day trip, the students will also get the chance to visit museums, memorials, and monuments.
"I'm looking forward to experiencing the Capital 4th which happens on the Capitol lawn after the parade. It's the nation's Fourth of July show. It's broadcast on PBS and we'll be there live watching all of the headliners. Chicago is going to be there," said Winkler.
The trip was funded by a state grant, and students said there's one more detail that makes the trip even more special.
"I’ve never been to D.C.," said McKinney.
And many of the students said they have never flown on a plane.
"I know we’re all grateful to be here and take on this opportunity and I know we’re very proud to represent the Central Valley and our schools and this district specifically. It's a chance to put our programs on the map," added McKinney.
An opportunity, she said, that comes with performing on the national stage.
America's National Independence Day Parade takes place annually on July 4th at 11:45 am EST in Washington, D.C., on Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Street. The Parade consists of invited bands, fife and drum corps, floats, military and specialty units, giant balloons, equestrian, drill teams, VIPs, national dignitaries, and celebrity participants. The Parade is co-hosted by the National Park Service and produced by Diversified Events, which is under contract with the National Park Service.