With scares of government shutdown over and fears relieved of this year's Cherry Blossom Parade being cancelled, Hardy Middle schoolers were ready to march Saturday.
"I knew the government would find something at the midnight hour," said trumpet player Ra'eese Corbitt with a grin. "I knew they wouldn't cancel it."
"It would've been such a disappointment," added a nearby parent. "We've all been looking forward to it and the kids have been practicing for weeks...bands from all over the country applied to play in this parade and Hardy is the only D.C. public school marching."
By 7:30 Saturday morning, Hardy's hallways were full of frenzied activity as students adjusted uniforms, tuned instruments and held last minute practices.
"I'm excited and nervous, but internally calm," said drum major Jouanni Romo. "I just hope that when we get off the bus there's gonna be no talking and we get straight to it. I really want to enjoy this moment."
The only middle school band in the parade, Hardy's students marched with a seriousness and discipline that comes from hours of long, hard practice. Led by band directors Joseph Chisholm and Brent Birckhead, students met twice a day in the weeks leading up to the parade.
"One great thing about marching band is that all kids can be involved. Everyone is part of the performance," said Chisholm. "That was one of my main reasons for starting it...it's also exciting for kids because they get a chance to travel and attend events like this."
Chisholm, who started Hardy's music program 10 years ago and built the program from the ground up, has a history with both music and D.C. public schools.
"I was in Cardozo High School's marching band and we played at the Rose Bowl in 1981," said Chisholm. "I can still see those people on both sides of the street lined up as far as the eye can see...I'll always remember that day."
This year Hardy's band played more traditional pieces like Phillip Sousa's "Washington Post March" and classics like Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop." But if they're invited back next year, students already have ideas for new songs and were requesting pop and hip hop tunes like "I Gotta Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas or "Jump on it" by Sir Mix-A-Lot.