INDIANAPOLIS — Saturday morning, thousands of people will descend on downtown Indianapolis for the AES 500 Festival Parade.
One of the first groups paradegoers will see is the IPS All-City Band, a group of high school musicians from IPS high schools ready to march and play for their hometown.
With hours to go until the parade, members of the IPS All-City Band are eager to perform.
"It's going to be my first time and I'm very excited," said Emma Wulf, a sophomore at George Washington High School.
"The first year, I was new to it, so I was like, 'What do I do? What do I do?' But the second year, I'm ready for it. Ready and excited for it," said Brian Morales, a junior at Arsenal Technical High School.
Students from Arsenal Tech, Crispus Attucks and George Washington high schools make up the band, united by their love of music.
"Marching band is fun, yes, but it's the people you do it with that make it as fun as it is," Wulf said.
"Just bonding, trying to have fun during the parade and playing music for people," Morales said.
Josh Goodman, director of bands at Arsenal Tech, works with the kids to get them ready for the parade. But he said nothing will quite prepare them for the crowds and excitement they'll see on Saturday.
"I don't know if it quite hits them until they make that turn onto the Circle and you just see that wall of people and everybody's cheering. I think that's the moment it really hits how special and important this event is for them," Goodman said.
Wulf said marching in this parade means so much to her.
"Marching band is a very safe space for a lot of people. And it's not easy work. The Indy 500 parade, it can get very hot and very tiring," she said. "I want people to be aware, it's not for the lighthearted."
Students ran through their tunes one last time Thursday afternoon, working hard to make sure their performance can wow the crowd. The music they play echoing around Arsenal Tech gives the kids here a chance to have some fun as they prepare for the thousands gathered to hear them play.
"It's a great day and a great way to end the year, too, and say goodbye to everybody before we come back in July for band camp," Goodman said.
The AES 500 Festival Parade starts at 11:45 a.m. If you're not heading downtown to catch it in person, you can watch the parade on Channel 13.