Band members call DC trip ‘Once in a lifetime experience’

Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

Often, anticipation of a long-awaited trip can make the actual journey feel anticlimactic.

But not for the Fernley High School marching band, and its trip to Washington D.C.

The FHS band performed in the annual Independence Day Parade in Washington, after having been nominated by former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.


Band members spent several months raising the money, through a variety of fundraisers, including a car wash at the conclusion of Burning Man, concessions at Reno 1868 soccer and Reno Aces baseball games. They also received many donations, including several thousand dollars from the City of Fernley.

Several students have described the trip as a once in a lifetime experience.

In addition to performing in the parade, they visited several national landmarks in the Washington D.C. area, including the Lincoln and Washington Memorials and Arlington National Cemetery.

The following are a sampling of the comments by students about the trip:

David Pruden, junior, Baritone: It was a great experience and I’m thankful for everyone that made this happen.

Audrey McDowell, senior, drum major: I liked being able to visit all of the war memorials, it makes you understand the sacrifices people have made for us. it was also amazing that we got to represent our entire state in the national parade.

Sydney Sempel, junior, trumpet, section leader: Definitely the most fun I’ve ever had, with the band visiting special memorials and important buildings that shaped the U.S. to this day. Incredibly thankful we got to go.

Cade Maestas, sophomore, trumpet: It was everything I expected and it was really fun with everyone even on the bus. It was just a great overall experience.

Maddy Thorpe, junior, trumpet: Overall, it was an amazing experience that I think everyone should get a chance to experience at some point in their lives. I was very excited to spend some long days with my best friends, while going to see the amazing memorials and museums. It was also a blast to represent Nevada in the National Fourth Parade.

Ashley Altemeyer, senior, clarinet, section leader: Being selected to play in the National parade was such a great opportunity! It allowed the band as a whole to really come together and act as a team to power through the heat and humidity during the parade, which a lot of us weren’t used to. Also, having been able to spend time at all the memorials and national monuments really let the reality set in that all of these amazing figures in our history helped build our country as it is today. Overall, this trip was such an amazing experience of a lifetime.

Mya Serrano, senior, percussion: Even on the trip I was still shocked we were chosen but I was so honored and very lucky for this experience. I was in love with the trip and all the memories I will have forever. I was extremely grateful to experience it with my band and be able to play on the biggest day for the country. I loved it all.

Zoē Rogers, junior, percussion, section leader: It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, and with every adventure we took, every sight we saw, I consistently thought about how amazing and generous our community was to help us get there. Every person who helped us along had helped us to create new memories that we will have forever.

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