MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A local high school band got the surprise of a lifetime Tuesday afternoon.

The atmosphere was electric inside the school’s performing arts center — but the students at first had no idea why.

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“They weren’t sure what was going on, but they knew something was going to happen,” said Ben Harloff, one Rosemount’s band directors.

In front of a group of dignitaries, including Gov. Mark Dayton, an unfamiliar man took the stage with some special news to share.

“It’s so special that I got on a plane and I flew here to visit you in person because a phone call just wouldn’t do,” said the mystery guest.

After praising the band for their world-class program and building anticipation to a breaking point, it was time for the big reveal.

“Rosemount High School Marching Band has been selected to represent the great state of Minnesota, and perform in New York City in the 2017 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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Wesley Whatley, creative director of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, has been surprising bands in 10 states with the news that they have been selected to perform in the major holiday event.

“I’m really feeling like a ton of like overwhelming emotions right now because there was a lot of hype building up to this, so we had no idea what was going on,” said student Isabel Edgar.

This recognition is the ultimate feather in the cap for a band with countless accolades, and a resume that includes performances at the Rose Parade, WE Day and the World Series.

“It’s the equivalent of an NFL team going to the Super Bowl,” said student Adam Shew. “This is the highest honor for a high school band program to receive.”

The entire marching band of more than 200 students will make the trip. Once in New York, they will rehearse overnight, and perform the next day without any sleep.

The total audience is 3.5 million spectators live on the street and more than 50 million viewers on television.

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The last time a Minnesota high school band performed at the Macy’s parade was in 1989.