FULDA -- They are heading off on an adventure, and what a whirlwind trip it will be.
On Tuesday, the 90-member Fulda High School Marching Band will depart for Washington, D.C., to march in the 2009 National Independence Day Parade. With 90 band members, six chaperones and 16 tagalongs, the two charter buses will leave at 7 a.m.
Their itinerary is packed with visits to a variety of museums, memorials and monuments at a whirlwind pace guaranteed to make time fly.
"There is a lot to see and do out there, and for a lot of these kids, it will be the only chance they have to go out there," Fulda Band Director Mike Peterson said, "unless they go back as adults."
The Fulda band takes a trip every three years and had a similar agenda back in 1993, Peterson explained, following the same kind of itinerary. Fundraising has been going on for those three years, and each student was expected to make up the difference monetarily if they were not able to raise the funds for their portion of the trip.
"If they elect not to fundraise, that is fine," Peterson stated. "They just have to get a check to me when I need it."
Any leftover bus seats were open to the public, which explains the 16 tagalongs.
"We do that for every trip," Peterson explained.
Peterson was notified in February that the band had been invited to march in the Independence Day parade. He was hoping to get an invitation either to the Washington parade or to the National Birthplace of America Parade in Philadelphia.
The Fulda delegation leaves Tuesday and will arrive in Washington in the late morning Wednesday. Their first stop will be to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
The rest of the day will be spent touring several Smithsonian museums, viewing the Iwo Jima Memorial and at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.
For the next two days, the students and chaperones will tour the D.C area, including the Capitol Building, the Ford Theater, the National Gallery of Art, the Holocaust Museum and other sights. The band will also attend a performance of the "President's Own" Marine Band, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corp and the Marine Precision Rifle Squad at the Marine Barracks Headquarters.
At 11:30 a.m. on July 4th, the band will step off as Unit 115 in the National Independence Day Parade.
Following the parade, they will load up the buses and head for New York, arriving around 6 p.m. For the next two days, the delegation will tour sites including the Ed Sullivan Theater, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Little Italy, Ground Zero, Grand Central Station and Times Square. They will visit the CBS Studio and hope to be on TV during the CBS Morning Show national weather forecast. One evening will be spent watching "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway, and the other will be spent sailing past the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge during a dinner cruise.
By July 7, the band will be on a bus once more, headed for Niagara Falls to board the boat Maid of the Midst. From there, everyone will climb back aboard the bus for the drive back to Fulda.