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AMERICAN FORK -- Final rehearsals are underway for the American Fork Marching Band, which will be one of the few marching bands in this year's Rose Parade. Their invitation is something the band director calls a miracle - and it will allow the band to honor someone who is very special to all of them.
The band enjoyed some good weather to practice in Monday; typically there is a foot of snow at this time of year. Step by step, the 230 members of the American Fork High School marching band are gearing up for the biggest performance the students have ever had.
"(It is) hard work. But we have lots of fun also," said Logan McAllister.
It's a huge honor. They are not only representing their school and city, but all of Utah in the parade.
"It's demanding and we have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders," said Andrea Cox. "But we do our best."
For several weeks, rehearsals have intensified, including navigating through a tight corner on the parade route, where national TV cameras will be capture the band's moment in the spotlight.
The 2012 Rose Parade appearance is the latest in several high profile invitations for the American Fork marching band. They performed in the 2005 Presidential Inaugural parade in Washington D.C., and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in 2007. But going to the Rose parade this year will have special meaning.
Heather Christensen was an American Fork band instructor who was killed in a bus accident two years ago as the band was returning from a competition in Idaho.
"She always wanted to go to the Rose Parade," said band director John Miller.
The students whose lives she helped to save on that bus were sophomores then, and are seniors now.
"This is kind of our final tribute to Heather," Miller said. "She always wanted to be in that Rose Parade, and we are going to take her with us in spirit and she is going to be marching along right there with us."
The band will perform two songs: a medley of the Armed Forces service songs, and "76 Trombones" from "The Music Man." This year, the Rose parade will be held on Jan. 2, since New Year's Day falls on a Sunday. And it's the longest parade route in the world at seven miles. That means they will be marching and playing nonstop for two and a half hours.
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