Barry Houser, who directs the Illini Marching Band, will be one of two directors there. This will be Houser's third time with the Macy's Great American Marching band, but it'll be the first trip for Finley.
The high school senior has been marching to the beat of his own drum for years. Millions of people will be watching and listening when he takes his talents to the Big Apple.
"It's a little nerve wracking," said Finley. "I'm excited for it though."
Finley plays percussion in his high school band but he's also a drum major. After winning a drum major award at a contest at EIU, he received an email asking him to march in the Macy's parade.
"He was like, 'I picked you,'" said Finley. "I was like cool. I like it."
"It's really just an amazing and fantastic opportunity," said Houser. "You work with some great students from across the country."
More than 200 students, many of whom are complete strangers, will start rehearsing for the first time next week.
"They've never played together, they've never talked to one another," said Houser. "So you're really building a community very quickly."
With just more than a week until the big day, Finley has some work to do. But he's excited for the chance to represent Illinois on a big stage.
"There's nothing really to prepare you for all this but when everything finally comes to, when the time comes, you're just like, go," said Finley. "You get it done."
The band will be playing jazz and pop music along the route this year.
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