As the streetlights began to turn off in the morning light, I boarded a bus that was quickly filling with Linesville marching band members. The bus was destined for the Apple Blossom Parade in Virginia. Compared to the small local parades the band participated in, this parade was equivalent to the Super Bowl. I felt as though I had a butterfly garden in my stomach. To add to my nerves, the trip would be the farthest I had ever been from my parents. I was only in ninth grade and had no idea what to expect.
The pressure mounted as we arrived at the staging point for the parade. The bus quickly filled with excited chatter. All the band members hurriedly put their uniforms on. Outside we heard the other bands practicing and getting ready to perform. We soon began to filter off the bus and proceeded to set up our instruments. Over all the pandemonium, we heard our band director instructing us to get into formation for the start of the parade.
My stomach flip-flopped as we marched down the parade route. The streets were lined with hordes of people. As the parade continued the nerves subsided and I began to enjoy performing in front of the crowds. I could feel my confidence building and I become one with the music. During the parade, we entered the judging area and I performed the best marching I could muster. Adrenaline pumped through my whole body.
All too soon, we turned the corner to the end of the parade. As we put our instruments away and changed out of our uniforms, I felt a sigh of relief. That was one of the biggest performances I had ever participated in. The experience was almost overwhelming for a young musician like me.
The next day my friends and I boarded the bus for home. Then, unexpectedly, our band director stormed onto the bus and ordered us all off. We timidly climbed outside, fearing the worst. Rumors quickly spread that a problem occurred with our parade performance.
The group hushed as the director began his speech. “ I just spoke with the one of the administrators of the parade and I am extremely disappointed with the carelessness of the bands performance.” He continued with, “I am sure that you will all be disappointed to find out that the band placed FIRST”.
A roar of jubilation erupted around me. Everyone had been fooled by the director’s show of disappoint. An unreal sensation filled the air. I never dreamed that a little band from Linesville, Pennsylvania could have done so well in such an enormous parade. As I boarded the bus again, I didn’t want to leave Virginia, but I also couldn’t wait to celebrate with my family back home.
Now, years after the parade, I still carry the lessons I learned on that trip. I am grateful to have the opportunity to explore the country because traveling to new places is an enjoyable yet educational experience. From participating in the parade, I learned that under certain circumstances risks are necessary in order to be rewarded. It has also become clear that practice is beneficial and important for self-improvement. If someone desires something strongly enough, especially when they put their heart into it then nothing can get in the way their goal.
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