The Dade County (GA) High School band makes history later this month, making the school's first appearance at a nationally televised Thanksgiving parade.

It has taken years of practice, and some feverish fund raising, but the Marching Wolverines will soon be playing in the McDonald's Parade in Chicago.  

Seventy-seven students are tuning up for the trip of a lifetime.  Band director Chris Chance has seen the group triple in size during the past nine years, growing into one of the region's most honored high school bands.

The band will be playing "Chattanooga Choo Choo," in honor of its state line neighbor. The Wolverines have won several recent competitions, and hope to send a message to a national audience seeing Dade County for the first time.

Senior drum major Abbey Keesee said, "I want them to know that it's not about where you're from, or how much money you have. If you work hard, you're gonna get beautiful results." 

A trip to Chicago is a milestone for many of the students.

Band director Chance said, "We have some students who have never even been to Atlanta, and for just about all of them, this will be the biggest city they've ever been visited."

As they put the final touches on their parade program, they're reminded of why they got involved in band in the first place.  They've learned the most important lesson of all: hard work really does pay off.

The trip will not be all work and no play. Following their performance, the students will visit the Field Museum of National History, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal at the Hard Rock Cafe.