Taking a Walk Down Pennsylvania Avenue - My Family Travels

Quarter Finalist 2009 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
              About eight months ago, I took the most memorable trip of my life to Washington, D.C.

              About eight months ago, I took the most memorable trip of my life to Washington, D.C. with the most unique people I have ever met: the Petal High School Marching Band. We had one mission to take this eighteen hour trip, and that was to march in the Inauguration Parade of the 44th President, President Obama. Not only was the trip long, cold, and way too short, but it was definitely an experience I will never forget. When the band got the news of our being one of thousands of applicants that was actually accepted to participate in President Obama’s parade, we had no idea how much this would impact each and every one of our lives. 

            Traveling from Petal, Mississippi to Washington, D.C. isn’t exactly an easy trip. In fact, with almost two hundred people going, the eighteen hour trip up and the eighteen hour trip home seemed like it lasted for a few long days. The trip was a quick one (although the ride wasn’t!). We were there for the simple, yet profound purpose of marching in Mr. Obama’s parade and showing the nation what Mississippi had to offer. There has never been a thing that will compare to the bitter, freezing cold of that trip. Being from the Deep South, freezing temperatures as daily highs were not what we were used to! We stood for close to four hours outside in the freezing cold, huddled together in the Petal Marching Band Uniform, unaware of the amazing amount of history we were about to take part in. 
            After marching for what seemed like several hours down Pennsylvania Avenue with the high school band that means the world to me, I realized that we have a special experience that very few groups ever get to take part in. Although we were cold, complaining, upset, tired, and hungry, we participated in the most memorable experience of our high school lives, possibly whole lives, and we participated in history. We are apart of history. 
            Now for a few travel tips:  first off, I would never suggest going with two hundred people on an eighteen hour trip anywhere! The simple task of stopping off at a rest-stop was a nightmare. The directors of the band were men (no offense to you men out there), so they were horrible at planning. They didn’t really comprehend that two hundred people with thirty minutes to eat, all shoved in a small KFC or McDonald’s, was a BAD idea! On top of that, whenever we got to our places to stay, everything was mass chaos. Getting off the bus could have resulted in severe trauma, seeing as everyone was extremely anxious to stand and walk around some. I recommend if you are traveling in large groups to suggest to the director or advisor that stopping each bus at different locations to eat is a more efficient, easier, and less traumatizing event rather than stopping all in one location. Trust me. For the long trip traveler:  bringing a pillow, plenty of food, a blanket, and a set of headphones on an iPod that work very well, will suit you nicely.
            The trip to D.C. and marching in the Inauguration Parade of our President was, no doubt, the best and most memorable trip I have taken in my lifetime. I am so blessed that I got to experience this trip, and I would do it again if given the opportunity. Traveling in large groups can be a bit crazy, but traveling with people you love makes the negative things nonexistent. Every memory is shared and completely worth it.

The Petal High School Marching Band departing for Washington, D.C.

The Petal High School Marching Band performing at the Inauguaration Parade of President Barack Obama

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