Red, white and blue balloons filled Marine View Middle School's gymnasium, and the colors were echoed throughout on banners hung on every surface.
Students mimicked their surroundings in patriotic-colored clothes, waving miniature American flags and holding signs spelling out "thank you" up high.
"There were no other colors at our school today," said Melissa Applebee, 13.
The gymnasium was decked out in all things patriotic for a welcome-home event for nine members of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, who recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan. City and school board officials, veterans in the American Legion Post 133 and members of the Huntington Beach Fire and Police Departments came out to thank the Marines with the students.
"It's with great honor and pride that I welcome you to Marine View Middle School, where patriotism is alive and well," said Principal Roni Ellis.
The celebration was a surprise for the Marines, who were taken to a lunch at a residence in Huntington Harbour and then told they were going to talk to a class, said Dave Sullivan, the 3/1 Marines Foundation's chairman.