In recent weeks, band director Darrell Watson has been crossing his "legs, arms, fingers, eyes, everything" as Ballou anxiously waits to hear whether its students get this year's biggest prize: the honor of performing in the Inauguration Day parade.
"Everywhere we go it's, 'You guys get selected into the parade?' " Mr. Watson, 38, said during a recent practice. "That's the first question everyone asks me."
The Majestic Marching Knights' track record is impressive. They're already booked for next month's Rose Bowl parade and next year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. But being in President-elect Barack Obama's procession would carry special meaning for this predominantly black band.
"We really want to be there," said Lewis Franklin, 17, who plays the sousaphone, which resembles a tuba. "I can't put it into words how badly we want to be there."
UPDATE: They're in!