Mike Hoss / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- The months of practice and hard work and the hours of marching all paid off in grand fashion, nearly 2,000 miles from home.

On New Year's Day, as a relative newbie, the New Orleans Roots of Music program played in the historic Tournament of Roses Parade, heady stuff for any group. But the Roots of Music has only been around for four years.

'But to get invited to the Rose Parade and get selected out of hundreds of bands on your basics, this is like winning the Grammy's for a marching band, at least from the band director's perspective,' said Lawrence Rawlins.

Its mission is to give 9- to 14-year-olds an option to the violent streets, an instrument instead of a weapon.

But co-founder and Rebirth Brass Band member Derrick Tabb said being a member of Roots is more than just an opportunity to play a musical instrument, but a chance to feel something about themselves they don't always enjoy.

'You're the special person in this, you, the band, everybody's going to be coming out here, everybody's going to be talking about you. They want to see you. This is going to be special,' he said. 'You feel special now.'

140 strong rode three days on a bus to get to Pasadena and are on their way back on buses, having kicked off the new year in a way that will be tough to top, but a challenge to do so.

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