The sun was just coming up Friday morning as the 46 members of the Loretto High School marching band stowed their instruments and boarded buses for a 12-hour trip to Washington, DC.
They are representing the state of Tennessee in the National Memorial Day Parade on Monday.
Before they left, band members and parents met with County Executive T.R. Williams, who once played in the Loretto High School band, and Commissioner Chris Jackson.
Supporters from police, fire and sheriff’s departments, the school board, and city hall were all there, including Mayor Jesse Turner.
Pastor Ronald Mashburn from Crossroads Baptist church led a prayer for safe travels.
As the buses rolled out of town, the kids got a big surprise: a lights and sirens escort from police, fire and ambulance crews. The Lawrenceburg utility company gave them a bucket truck salute as they headed north to Washington.
The adventure started last Fall when Band Director Darrell Boston got the parade invitation out of the blue. “I was at home when the email came through. I was sharing it with my wife. And she said do you think that’s real or a joke and I said I don’t know but I’m going to find out.”
Now, six months later, they’ll be marching up Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC along with marching bands from each branch of the military, veterans groups, floats, and bands from other states.
It’s a big stage for a small-town high school band from Loretto in southern Lawrence County.
Trips like this don’t come free. They had to raise $60,000 with concerts, smoked baloney sandwiches, pancake suppers, and T-shirt sales.
Back in December, Loretto Band Boosters President Jay Neidert told us, “This is really, really big. You know, the biggest thing that’s ever happened to our program. The first thing we immediately said is we’ve got to find a way to make it happen.”
The National Memorial Day Parade steps off Monday, May 27 at 2 p.m. Eastern.