The Tupelo High School Marching Band will be one of seven high school bands from around the country marching in the inaugural parade for President Donald Trump. Correspondent Matt Kessler reports on the excitement and the anticipation as the students prepared for their trip to Washington, D.C.
As the rain pours outside Tupelo High School earlier this week, the 168 members of the high school marching band line up in the parking lot next to the football stadium with their drums, tubas, trumpets, and saxophones. They’ve been practicing for three hours indoors and now they must play outside, in the dark, to prepare for President Donald Trump's inaugural parade. They march-in-place and wait for band leader Rick Murphy to give the signal.
He points and the drumroll begins.
Murphy knew the Band's chances were slim when he applied online to the Presidential Parade Committee in November. Then, on December 20th, Senator Roger Wicker called.
"I was standing in my kitchen at home and he called and said, 'Mr. Murphy this is Senator Wicker and I have great news for you. You've been included in the Inaugural Parade and he was very, very happy about it."
It wasn't the first call Murphy received that day.
"Well, to be very honest, a staffer in Washington had already called me when I was in the grocery store right before he called and let the cat out of the bag so, immediately, as soon as I got the staffer call, I took a deep breath, stopped right in the middle of the meat section and then I called the band booster president and alerted her that this is going to happen and we're going to have to get this thing moving."
Leslie Williams is a fifteen-year-old alto saxophone player. She also remembers where she was when she heard the good news.
"I was actually at home with my parents and when I got the call that I need to come up here and do all the paperwork for me to go I was actually very happy because this is such a big moment for the band and I feel that everyone is going to be great, so it was a great moment."
The Tupelo Marching Band is one of the best high school bands in the State---racking up trophies in both marching and concert band competitions. Leslie thinks people might not realize just how much hard work goes into it.
"Everyone here puts in a lot of work to make the band as great as it is and almost as perfect as it is. We've been having after school practices and everyone has been working really hard to remember their music, stay in step and keep their lines straight."
Rick Murphy has taught band for 37 years. This will be his first time to performing at an inaugural parade. Although thrilled, he admits the logistics have been difficult. The Secret Service vetted all 168 students. And the School had to raise $110,000 in just one month to cover traveling expenses. On Friday, the band will march two-and-a-half miles, a much longer route than usual. They had hoped to march for an hour on this day to prepare, but the rain got in the way.
Senior Kyle Woodward is the drum major and band captain. This will be his last year playing with the band.
"I'm just, I'm thrilled. It's hard to put it into words how excited I am because it's just it's such a once in a lifetime opportunity, not just for me but for the band as a whole."
Kyle believes this will be a memory that he'll tell his grandkids about.
"I think it'll be something that everyone in the band can remember for the rest of their lives, that they can tell their grandchildren, and their grandchildren can pass it on and say, 'Hey, my grandfather marched in the Inauguration Parade."