When Nation Ford High's marching band was invited in April 2010 to perform in the 2011 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, it was a honor that put the teens among America's top performers.
Then came the hard part. The group had to raise $160,000 to send everyone on the trip.
That's on top of the $425 each student is expected to pay or raise to be in band.
Parents and students hit the ground fundraising for weeks.
"We tried everything," the band's booster club president Linda Tennant said. "Every week has been something else."
They made it. The group leaves on Monday - with parents in tow - on charter buses bound for the Big Apple.
They will spend six days in the city. Band director Martin Dickey plans to take them to the observation deck atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza for "the best view" of the city. They will also visit St. Patrick's Cathedral, tour Central Park, take a ferry to Ellis Island and catch a Broadway show.
Oh yeah, they'll also march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Their performance, titled "Carolina On My Mind," is an amalgam of music rooted in the Palmetto State.
"Carolina in the Morning" blends into "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," by South Carolina native James Brown, which is followed by "The Twist" by Chubby Checker, also a native. It ends with James Taylor's "Carolina On My Mind."
The students spent the last few weeks perfecting it, following their third straight state championship.
"The key to our success is we are like a family with that common goal," Tennant said. "That's what really gets people out there working and busting their butts."
Here's a look at how the Macy's money came together:
$80,000: In addition to the normal band fees, students this year had to each pay a $950 "Macy's fee" to pay for the weeklong trip.
$40,000: Parents and students sold concessions year-round at major events, including Carolina Panthers games, Charlotte Knights games, Verizon Wireless amphitheater concerts, Time Warner Cable Arena events, the Wells Fargo Golf Tournament and the BandBeat Band Contest, among others.
$20,000: Donations from Macy's Partner Businesses, corporate donors and private donors.
$10,000 to $20,000: From selling fruit, pastries and coupon books to hosting an oyster roast.
The icing on the cake was a charity basketball game featuring a team of former Harlem Globetrotters, who took on a team of locals, which included radio personalities and Fort Mill educators.
Some figures are still being calculated, booster club member Stacy Tickle said.
The fundraisers included a Cabin Fever Dance, Band Exhibition hosted by NaFo, selling snow cones at football games and a barbecue.
Video: Nation Ford Band rehearses for Macy's