By Chris Paul
Members of the Londonderry High School Marching Band gathered early on Tuesday morning, March 21, for an official visit from members of the London New Year’s Day Parade committee who delivered a special invitation for the band to participate in next year’s massive event.
The annual parade, that has spanned over five decades, will feature more than 8,000 performers from all over, entertaining a street audience estimated to be around 500,000 viewers and a global TV audience of tens of millions.
Bob Bone, the Founder and Chairman of the world-renowned, London New Year’s Day Parade and Duncan Sandys, the great grandson of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill, joined students in the LHS band room to formally invite them to participate in London’s 2024 New Year’s Day Parade & Festival.
The performance will be live on network television across the United States by PBS. American Public Television has just signed an agreement to syndicate the parade for the next three years.
The LHS Band is one of just 20 American bands asked to participate in the massive event and students will have a life-changing week in the historic city of London, performing in the parade and immersing in a full educational program visiting museums, historic sites, and places of architectural and artistic interest.
Bone told the students that the one thing people like most about his parade are the American high school and college marching bands.
Sandys gave the students an idea of the parade route through the historic, narrow streets of London.
Sandys, who now lives in Georgia, is an Ambassador of London’s New Year’s Day Parade and something of an historian with his great grandfather, Great Britain’s legendary wartime Prime Minister.
The Parade will begin on Piccadilly in front of the Ritz Hotel, then will go along Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, then travel down Cockspur Street, Pall Mall and Lower Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus, and to Parliament Square.
After a short video showing students what they will be experiencing, Sandys presented Serge Beaulieu, the Londonderry School District Director of Music with the official invitation.
After that presentation, junior Drum Major, Lauren Fontaine, was presented with a very important task. Fontaine was given an umbrella by Bob Bone, and was told to never let it leave her hands between now and the time of the parade. Bone said this would be the only way they could ensure a dry festival.
The marching band’s performance will be made available to all TV stations in the region free of charge and will be streamed live around the world.
This will undoubtedly be one of the Lancers largest audiences to date and adding to an already more than impressive resumé. They have participated in a number of Rose Bowl Parades, a trip to Beijing, China during the Olympics, countless New York City St. Patrick’s Day parades, and many more.
They are conducting a number of fund raising events leading up to the parade.
Currently, the Londonderry Friends of Music have raised over $4,000 with a Flower Power Fundraiser. They also have a Mega Cash Raffle and The Marketplace Fundraiser under way.