The N.C. Central University Marching Sound Machine will march in the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade.
Yes, this is a very big deal. Jorim Reid, the band's director, says it's one of the top three honors a marching band can snare, along with an invitation to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the John Philip Sousa Foundation's Sudler Trophy given each year to the top college or university band in the nation.
By the way, the band from Western Carolina University won that Sousa trophy and will march in Pasadena as well.
Reid took over as the NCCU band director in 2001. Then, there were 32 members. Things have changed. Reid expects to bring 250 to Pasadena.
Though he's had success, Reid said he wouldn't have applied yet for the Tournament of Roses had not a parade committee member suggested that he do so.
"It was in the 15-year plan," he said. "I've only been here eight years, so we're ahead of schedule."
Next up for NCCU, a frantic fundraising campaign. The total cost of trip could run NCCU $500,000, no small task with public universities currently in budget-cut mode.
"What kind of fundraising will we have to do? Massive!" said Chancellor Charlie Nelms. "It's going to be a monumental task. But it's one that will embraced. It's a real honor for the state of North Carolina."
For many band members, the rose parade invitation came as a happy surprise.
"We didn't even know he applied for it," said Shannon Todd of Burlington, a 'dance girl' in the band. "We just try to do our best and then reap the benefits later. We want to be one of the best bands in the nation."
Read more on this story in Wednesday's Durham News.