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Everything happening felt unreal. I didn’t even realize it was time. It ten minutes until we started. Everyone was straight in their lines and nerves began to take over. We were all less than five minutes away from marching in the 124th Annual Pasadena Tournament of the Roses Parade. My mind was racing and all I could think was, ‘I better not trip and fall. This is going to be live on national television. Left, right, left. I got this.’ *inhale*exhale.* Before I knew it, we were on. Presenting the Los Angeles Unified School District All City Honor Marching Band. The cheers were echoing in my eardrums. The next thing I knew, it was over. Everything I had been working for had paid off. ‘I just marched in the Rose Parade.’ The only way I would be able to participate in the Rose Parade was if I attended every single rehearsal and if I played a brass instrument. I play trumpet, and the rehearsals were long and tedious, but I pushed through.

The rehearsals were every Saturday starting in October and continued throughout December. Once winter break commenced, we had rehearsal for two weeks straight, from 9am to 4pm, and only had breaks on weekends and Christmas Day. It was imperative that I got up early and rode the school bus, or else I would be left behind. There were over 500 LAUSD students who participated in the All City Honor Marching Band and on the day of the Rose Parade, only about 350 students were left. Luckily, I was one of them. The Rose Parade was I would have never realized how strenuous, while simultaneously amazing, it is to march and play for the whole parade. I was playing my trumpet on the streets of Colorado Blvd, and all I heard were hundreds of people clapping and cheering for our entire marching band. The feeling of being able to make hundreds or more people smile on New Year’s Day was rewarding in and of itself.

Once in a while, there were stops, and I was able to get a look at the scenery. Throughout the course of the parade, buildings around me transformed, reflecting a plethora of cultures. It seems insignificant on a regular day, but watching the towns shift from culture to  culture made me realize just how diverse our city truly is. I have never felt more relieved, than when I came home that night. All of those long hours during the winter break, at Dodger’s Stadium, marching and playing all around the parking lots, was all worthwhile. The entire experience has left its mark on my world.

I never would have thought I would be capable of doing anything remotely close to marching in the Rose Parade. Although some days were harder than others, I knew I needed to keep going, because, if I did not, then everything I worked hard for would have been for nothing. Being in the LAUSD All City Honor Marching Band helped me learn I am the kind of person who will do whatever it takes to strive to be successful. I know I have the capability to do anything I set my mind to and do it well. Being able to finish something I’ve started has had an extraordinary influence on my life and will continue to benefit me in the future. w.c 564

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