The Lancer Marching Band returned from sunny California last week to face a frigid reality after their latest Tournament of Roses Parade adventure.
The band marched in the Parade in Pasadena for the fifth time, spending six days and five nights gallivanting from one performance to another while sneaking in some fun at Disneyland.
“It’s been a very exciting week,” remarked band director Andy Soucy. He, along with Surge Beaulieu, Keith Gosseling, Paula Winer, Greg McKenzie and Zach Licata led 261 students and 49 adults across the country to show off some of the best young musicians Londonderry has to offer.
“We’re proud to represent our community,” said Soucy. “The kids did a great job.”
The Tournament of Roses Parade (commonly called the Rose Bowl Parade) is a New Year’s Day tradition in America. To prepare for such a moment, Soucy and his team drilled the band members endlessly to prepare them for national television. The band director relied on his three drum majors, senior Julia Turk, and juniors Ian Goodspeed and Parker McIntyre to guide their classmates during the five and a half mile-long parade
The Lancer Band learned five pieces that would play throughout the parade, but only one of them would air on TV. The song Soucy picked for that moment is one the rest of the country could define as quintessentially New England- “Shipping Up to Boston,” by the Dropkick Murphys. One of Soucy’s former students worked as a sound technician for the band, who gave the band their blessing to play it.
“There’s so much excitement,” said Soucy about the experience. “It’s a unique parade.”
This time around Soucy and his group were surprised to find out they were listed as the second band in the whole parade, appearing right after the United State Marine Band.
“I was thrilled and shocked to find out we were the second band,” said Soucy. He recalled the moment when the band stepped off onto the parade route and were greeted with non-stop cheering.
“The crowd was so spirited,” he said. “I don’t know I’ve seen such an energetic crowd.”
Throughout the trip, the band practiced for the big day and two other performances, one of which was at Disneyland on New Year’s Eve. That one was shorter, only 15-minutes in length, but Soucy said it was just as exciting. “It’s a thrill,” he remarked.
During the band’s downtime, the kids, staff and parents (along with Principal Jason Parent and Superintendent Scott Laliberte) got to do some sightseeing around Los Angeles at Griffith Park and the observatory, checked out the California Science Museum and enjoyed an old fashion joust at Medieval Times.
While Soucy and crew were responsible for getting the band ready to march, the Friends of Music parent group got the itinerary ready for the band. Kathy Gagon, Laurie Narsden, Susan Rouse, Jennifer Dupuis and Kathy Bachelor all worked together with the rest of the parents to plan a trip that the kids would always remember.
“They all have special talents,” Soucy remarked. “We had a really good coordinated team.”
The outpour of support wasn’t just from the parents. Local officials like Town Manager Kevin Smith tweeted out Lancer pride. Governor Chris Sununu sent the band a letter and made a proclamation. Both Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, as well as Representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Custer sent their regards as well. The anchors from WMUR even sent the band a good-luck letter.
“We have a pretty cool network of support,” said Soucy. “It meant a lot to the kids.”