Lots of rehearsing, lots more fundraising, lands Nogales band in Washington

The Pride of Nogales – the high school’s marching band, dance team and color guard – prepares to march down Constitution Avenue in the National Memorial Day Parade. (Photo by Veronica Acosta/Cronkite News)

Students and band boosters at Nogales High School did a little bit of everything to raise funds for their D.C. trip, from selling doughnuts to staring an online campaign. (Photo by Veronica Acosta/Cronkite News)

Students at Nogales High School said they were excited by the opportunity to march in the National Memorial Day Parade, a chance many said there are not likely to get again. (Photo by Veronica Acosta/Cronkite News)

The Nogales High School marching band’s drummers take a minute to practice outside the National Gallery of Art before the start of the National Memorial Day Parade. (Photo by Veronica Acosta/Cronkite News)

The Nogales High School marching band begins to move toward Constitution Avenue, the route of the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington. (Photo by Veronica Acosta/Cronkite News)

The Nogales High School marching band was one of several bands featured in the National Memorial Day Parade. This is the 12th annual paraed in Washington. (Photo by Veronica Acosta/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – They traveled 2,000 miles so they could march 13 blocks down Constitution Avenue here, but students in the Pride of Nogales – the Nogales High School’s marching band, color guard and dance team – said it was worth it.

“We’re still super excited to be able to march in this parade,” said Sophie Paez, a member of the dance team, as the students prepared to fall in with floats, military bands and marching bands from around the country for the National Memorial Day Parade.

But before they could march in Washington, the students had to get to Washington, and that meant lots of fundraising to pay for the trip.

“One of our major challenges was fundraising to make sure that we could get all of the students here,” said Lisa Sargeant-Myers, the high school’s director of bands.

She could not provide an exact amount for the trip, but previous reports have put the fundraising goal at more than $150,000, while the band boosters, who set up a gofundme account for the trip, set a goal of $176,000. Band supporters tried a little bit of everything.

“We did doughnut sales, we did candy sales, we did car washes. We did daylight dances,” Sargeant-Myers said. “We asked for donations from community businesses, and members.

“There were like 12 others that I honestly can’t remember right now, but there were many, many things that we all did,” she said.

Paez agreed that “there was a lot of fundraising.” Sargeant-Myers said everyone “worked really hard on fundraisers and getting donations.”

There was a point when they were worried that they wouldn’t reach their goal for the trip, but as the day drew closer “it began to sink in more so that it was a reality that they would get here,” Sargeant-Myers said. Ultimately, all the members of the marching band, color guard, and dance team were able to make the trip to Washington.

So on a humid Washington afternoon Monday, Nogales High students filed off buses dressed in their maroon-and-gold uniforms to get ready at the staging location in the front of the National Gallery of Art.

Dance team members had “Nogales” stitched across their uniforms, the color guard wore maroon jumpsuits with gold sequins, and the band wore black bottoms with maroon-and-gold tops that displayed the school’s name on the upper arm.

From the starting point near the foot of Capitol Hill, went straight down Constitution Avenue, ending just past the Washington Monument and the White House. Over the course of two hours, parade-goers saw marching bands, Miss America, musical acts, actors Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna and former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, among other celebrities.

But the people lining the parade route weren’t the only ones taking it all in.

“I was very excited,” said Kenya Delgadillo, a member of the Nogales color guard, who called the trip “a one-time thing, something I might never get a chance to go through” again.

-Cronkite News video by Veronica Acosta