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The Chopticon High School marching band returned Monday to St. Mary’s after earning the award as best band in the annual Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade in Hawaii.

About 50 members of the Chopticon band and color guard spent four nights and five days in the island state, where they participated in a ceremony, marched in the official parade on Dec. 7, toured Pearl Harbor and partied at a luau.

An estimated 100,000 people last Friday lined the parade route along Kalakau Avenue in Waikiki, according to band director Todd Burroughs, and 63 organizations participated in the parade.

During their visit to Hawaii the students heard stories about the attack from a Pearl Harbor survivor.

The Chopticon band, which has had a string of achievements including four consecutive Maryland state championships, earned the chance to perform in Hawaii after a judge in a performance last school year observed their performance on the field and their interactions off the field, according to Burroughs.

Eight bands one from each of the states whose names were on ships moored at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack that led the United States to enter World War II were invited from the mainland United States to attend the ceremony.

While the USS Maryland was not sunk when two armor-piercing bombs dropped by Japanese pilots hit the ship on Dec. 7, 1941, the bombs did detonate below deck, killing four people.

The Calvert High School Navy JROTC was also selected to represent Maryland at the Pearl Harbor parade.

The Chopticon students and band boosters held fundraising events during the last seven months and raised the more than $100,000 needed for the trip.

Jesse Yeatman