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DeKalb Marching Barbs winners at Sugar Bowl

The students and staff of the DeKalb High School's Marching Barbs will be part of the pregame ceremony at the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday, a perk they earned after being declared the grand champions of a marching band competition Monday in New Orleans.

The band also will perform with 11 other high school bands during the halftime show. But the 93 students who traveled to New Orleans will be on the field when the National Anthem is being played.

Band director Steve Lundin said they will not know what they are doing specifically until Wednesday. However, a number of people on the trip said they expect to be holding one of the massive banners on the football field.

Nevertheless, the band's victory is reason to be excited, Lundin said.

"It changes the trip for them," Lundin said. "They were going to love it no matter what, but this really adds something extra special for them."

That's how DHS senior Tom Hagaman, one of the three drum majors on the trip, described the experience thus far.

"It's going to be a moment I will never forget in my entire life," Hagaman said.

Allison Hunter-Rosene, a senior and member of the color guard, said she was not expecting the band to do so well against other bands that play in warmer weather.

"It was so amazing that we won. I was so thrilled," Hunter-Rosene said. "Now we get to participate in the flag-holding during the pregame show during the National Anthem."

The band and color guard's practice schedule has been different since they learned they were playing at the Sugar Bowl. Instead of practicing for basketball games, the Marching Barbs have been practicing outside in the cold weather.

Hunter-Rosene said she was sidelined for 20 days in December as she recovered from gall bladder surgery. She received the OK to participate in full activities on Sunday, the day the band left for New Orleans. All it took was five minutes of practice before she felt like her old self.

"It's muscle memory," Hunter-Rosene said. "Once its ingrained in your muscles, you don't have to worry about forgetting that. "

In addition to being declared the grand champion, the band also won best marching, best overall effect, best color guard and best music in their competition's division, as well as placing first, said Misty Haji-Sheikh, one of the trip chaperones.

Haji-Sheikh said her son, Merrick, and the other 92 students had had little rest since they left DeKalb Sunday.

"On very little sleep, they were able to become the grand champions," Haji-Sheikh said.

The 79th Annual Sugar Bowl will see the Louisville Cardinals take on the Florida Gators. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Lundin initially cautioned parents and others that those watching the game on ESPN would not see the Marching Barbs or other bands play on the field of the Superdome at the same time. The different bands will play "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf, "I Don't Care" by Fall Out Boy, and "I Don't Wanna Stop" by Ozzy Osbourne.

But being involved in the pregame ceremony changes that.

"I'm assuming our chances of being on TV just went up a whole lot," Lundin said.

Hagaman expressed his thanks to the parents involved with the high school band, as well as anyone else who supported them financially or emotionally. Hunter-Rosene described the victory as a blessing.

"I am beyond excited," Hunter-Rosene said. "It's such an honor to come down to the Sugar Bowl and win and come back to the school...It's such a great way to finish out the marching band season for my senior year."

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