Music students at Nogales High School in La Puente, Calif., got a surprise visit from Macy's representatives Monday morning in the school's gym, inviting them to attend the 2015 Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
"We never really imagined that it was actually going to be this," said Jasmine Martinez, a 17-year-old senior at the school. "I'm super excited now that I have something really big to look forward to."
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This is the second time in less than a decade the school has won a prestigious spot in the annual New York parade.
More than 175 marching ensembles applied from across the country this year - and Macy's picked only 10. The Noble Regiment, as the band is called, will represent California. Band members who graduate this summer still get to join fellow classmates to perform in New York.
Organizing the surprise
The choice wasn't a surprise to everyone. Macy's staffers contacted the school's band director, Brad Pollock, about a month ago to give him the news - and float their plan to surprise the students.
In the weeks that followed, Pollock created several story lines to try and keep his curious high school students at bay. He told them they needed to wear their uniforms for a magazine shoot, or a commercial they'd be featured in — or something.
"I was in shock and excited and in pain all at the same time because I couldn't let anybody know," Pollock said. "I switched the stories on them a few times."
Monday morning he called them all to the gym for an assembly - and Macy's officials gave them the good news.
Macy's doesn't cover airfare or other supplemental costs and many of the students can't afford it. The school needs to raise at least $100,000 to make the trip a reality, according to Gina Ward, the public information officer for the Rowland Unified School District - and is seeking donations.
If they can raise enough money, many of the school's students will be making their very first trip to New York.
Pollock said the students will have to up their practice time to prepare. He's still deciding what piece they'll perform during the parade.
"We're small compared to other groups, but like the sound and the way we play and march it really shows off," said Justin Vasquez, a senior at the school who plays the tuba. "We're the little band that could."
To see the band in action before the big day head to Nogales High School at 401 Nogales Street in La Puente, Calif. They'll perform in the school's gym May 2 at 5:30 pm and May 15 at 7 pm.