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KMS students to march in national parade Thursday in Washington, D.C.

The Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg Marching Saints brass line performs during the Willmar Fests Grande Day Parade. This week the high school students are in Washington, D.C., where they will march in the National Independence Day Parade on Thursday and also see several historic sights in the D.C. area. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
Members of the KMS Marching Saints drumline march during one of the summer parades in which the students participated. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

KERKHOVEN -- Parades and fireworks are the two staples of the Fourth of July holiday, and a group of area high school students will experience both in the nation's capital this year.

The Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg Marching Saints will march in the Independence Day parade Thursday in Washington, D.C., while also getting to explore the city in the days before and after the Fourth of July.

In spring of 2012, band instructor Pam Diem sent in an application and video of her band performing to be considered for the 2013 National Independence Day Parade. Once the committee reviewed the application, the KMS Marching Saints were notified they had been accepted.

"We found out last summer," senior Travis Lamdecker said. "I'm really excited. I've never been there, so I can't wait to see it."

The marching band arrived Tuesday in Washington, D.C., and will tour the city through Friday.

"We'll spend all of that time sightseeing, except for marching in the parade the morning of the Fourth," Diem said.

Diem said that while she is looking forward to marching in the National Independence Day Parade, she is most looking forward to her students' reactions to being in Washington, D.C.

"It's the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, so it'll be fun to be there during that," Diem said. "I can't wait to see all the kids' reactions to all of the things they've read about in history books."

For the Marching Saints' seniors, for whom this will be the last time marching with their high school, the trip is something to which they have been eagerly looking forward for the last year.

"I'm excited to experience and be part of something this big," senior Alison Miller said. "I'm looking forward to visiting all of the memorials, Mount Vernon, the Holocaust museum, all of the Smithsonians and Arlington and the changing of the guard."

In addition to taking in the Fourth of July celebrations in Washington, the KMS sightseeing agenda includes George Washington's Mount Vernon estate in northern Virginia, Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History and the National Mall & Memorial Parks.

"I'm looking forward to spending time with my classmates, seeing all of these historic places," senior Maddi Strandberg said.

Diem said she's proud of her students for being accepted to march in the national parade.

"When I found out we'd been accepted, I was thrilled, surprised, excited and proud, and then I was nervous," she said. "This is a big deal for the kids."

The KMS Marching Saints marched in the 1999 National Independence Day Parade, so this year's parade will mark the band's second appearance in Washington, D.C.

"I'm looking forward to just having fun with my classmates one more time in a cool place," senior Fred Mansfield said.