MOORE — American marching bands are apparently quite popular in London — popular enough that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth sent delegates to invite the Southmoore High School band to march in London’s annual New Year’s Day Parade 2016.
North American marching bands from high schools and colleges are the beating heart of the parade, according to Executive Parade Director Bob Bone, who entertained band members, teachers, city officials, parents and other guests with a slice of keen British wit at an assembly Wednesday at Southmoore.
Bone and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Greater London the Honorable Roger Bramble, along with Jonathan Whaley, senior director of international participation, presented the formal parade invitation and token gifts during the ceremony.
“You (marching bands) are the favorite thing of virtually everybody,” Bone said, then qualified that the parade also has American cheerleaders, which the “young males of London greatly appreciate.”
The Southmoore band played the “Star Spangled Banner” for the visiting dignitaries and then played a short clip of “Unchained Melody” and the school fight song.
During the visit to London in 2016, the band will have the opportunity to play a number of concerts in the London area and then march and play in the parade. For most, it is a life-changing event, Bone said.
“We have 8,500 participants drawn from 20 countries around the world,” Bone said.
Bone compared the parade to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, which has 4,500 participants.
The London Street audience tops 700,000, he said, with all of those people crowded along narrow, historic streets dating back 1,000 years.
“It’s quite something,” Bone said.
Additionally, the parade is broadcast to a worldwide television audience. The parade had 280 million TV viewers this year.
“Music is my greatest passion,” said Bramble, who is also the parade’s founder. “I am deeply envious of you kids who get to play together.”