Community members from across the state came to support the South Callaway Pride Marching Band at the South Callaway R-II High School on Thursday, as they embarked toward Washington D.C.
The South Callaway band was invited by Sen. Roy Blunt in 2021 to perform at the 2023 National Memorial Day Parade at 1 p.m. on Monday. They will be the only band from Missouri in attendance.
"I'm very excited to just be there and just feel what it's like because we've never done anything like this," Jessica Binkley, a recent graduate, said. "Just the fact that we are the only band going to represent our state is just insane to me, and I feel like everybody at home is gonna be watching because gonna be on national television."
Forty-six band members will be performing the song "Conquest" during the parade.
"I'm just excited to see all the sights and get an opportunity to do something this big and represent our state honestly, and just really make a difference," junior Elise Sebacher said. "It's just a big thing and it's gonna make me really happy.
During the send-off, Callaway Electric Cooperative bucket trucks held up a 40-foot American flag and community members raised signs with supportive messages. Debbie Bond, the grandmother of band member Harper Murphy, held a sign that said "Go bulldogs, D.C. bound."
"I think the kids nowadays need that feeling of patriotism from the experience, and I'm just so proud of them representing the whole state of Missouri," Bond said. "It is quite an honor to be able to do that. They have come a long way with the band program down here."
The students were also awarded a proclamation from the Mayor of Mokane, Chad Booher, Rep. Jim Schulte and three county commissioners.
"I want to congratulate the band director and the school as a whole, and then all of the members," Schulte said. "It is a lot of hard work and dedication by everyone. No one person does it all, but it is a great team effort."
The original departure time for the send-off was 3 p.m., however, the band's charter bus was in an accident on the way to the school, according to a South Callaway Band Department Facebook post. They dispatched a new bus from Kansas City, the post said and left later in the evening.
The Callaway County Sheriff's Office was set to escort the band as they departed from the school. The South Callaway Fire Protection District brought fire trucks during the ceremony.
The band fundraised to be able to attend the event. They sold wreaths, donuts, pizza and shirts, Bond said.
South Callaway Band Boosters will be broadcasting the parade and updates about the band on their Facebook page.