Gilbert High School’s Tiger Pride Marching Band received an official invitation to perform at one of the world’s largest parades on New Year’s Day 2015.
The band is set to bring in the new year at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean as part of the 29th New Year’s Day Parade & Festival in London. Once there, the students will join marching bands from across the world — 20 countries were represented among an estimated 10,000 performers in 2014 — and march past London landmarks like Piccadilly Circus and the Elizabeth Tower, which is better known to Americans as Big Ben.
“Traveling in this parade is something that will stay with you for the rest of your lives,” said former Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster Duncan Sandys.
Sandys, who is the great grandson of Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, arrived at Gilbert High School on March 20 to present the invitation to the school alongside parade Executive Director Bob Bone. Bone called the parade “the greatest parade in the greatest city in the world” — the phrase is also highlighted on the parade’s website as well — and provided a strong justification for the proclamation.
His reasoning came from a comparison with one venerable American tradition: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He said that event draws approximately 450,000 visitors every year; the New Year’s Day Parade & Festival, he said, draws more than 850,000 attendees and is watched by approximately 300 million TV viewers in the United Kingdom, Australia, China and beyond.
“Big is not always best, but in this case it certainly is,” Bone said.
Gilbert Public Schools Interim Superintendent Jim Rice credited the students for earning the invitation and said the experience will offer them exposure to the world they might not have otherwise, while District 12 State Rep. Warren Petersen added the cultural experience will “change your lives.”
Bone echoed those sentiments, saying it will be both a trip and experience of a lifetime, but he also offered kudos to the school’s wind ensemble and color guard after watching them perform, describing both as awesome. His sentiments were an extension of some of the expectations he has for the marching band come day one of 2015.
“I think we’re the lucky ones in this deal; I think you’re going to be the stars of the show,” he said.
Visit lyndp.com for more information about the parade, including photos from the 2014 event.
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