By Melanie Yingst
TROY — They may never be royals, but the Troy High School marching band will be spending the New Year across the pond with all the Queen’s horses and all the Queen’s men.
More than 90 Troy High School marching band members jetted across the Atlantic to perform in the London New Year’s Parade this week.
For most of the students, it may be the first and only opportunity in their lives to travel out of the United States which is why Troy City Schools’ music chair and band director Kathy McIntosh has participated in the London New Year’s Day parade for the fourth time in her career.
“It’s an awesome parade to be invited to,” McIntosh said on Dec. 20 before school let out for Christmas break. “The parade has definitely grown in popularity.”
While most of the British pomp and circumstance is reserved for the Royal Family like the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and other royal events, the country does not have many parades throughout the year, McIntosh said.
“They don’t have a lot of parades over there so a lot of people will be coming in to London just for the parade,” she said. “It’s really thrilling to be in this parade — the whole set-up is top notch.”
McIntosh said American bands are one of the highlights along the two mile parade route. Since Europe plays a different kind of football (i.e. soccer) and music programs are often provided outside of school, marching bands are a unique feature of the parade. Troy High School marching band will be one of only 16 American bands to perform at the parade.
This year’s parade has a 1960’s theme, so the students have been practicing an Ohio favorite “Hang on Sloopy” with a chant of “Troy, Ohio” in the middle and “Hey, Baby” also with a song feature.
McIntosh said the Trojan helmets are another feature which London parade goers love to photograph.
“There’s no doubt that the British people love our Trojan helmets,” she said. “They are just fascinated with our uniforms.”
McIntosh said many people come up to the students and ask for their picture because of the elaborate uniforms and shiny head pieces. A photo of a Trojan helmet in the parade with the reflection of Big Ben made the Associated Press several years ago.
McIntosh said one quirk of traveling with musical instruments is how much security clearance has changed through the years.
This year, McIntosh and her staff and students had to measure, weight and pack each of the students’ instruments and ship overseas.
“That’s been nerve racking, although it’s made traveling a little easier,” McIntosh said. “All our stuff has to pass through customs. It is an uneasy feeling to load up all your instruments and put them on a truck, but they should be waiting at our hotel when we get there.”
A TRIP OF A LIFETIME
McIntosh said a full agenda awaits the students before and after the parade ends.
“They’ll be out and about every day,” she said. Along with dozens of chaperons, students will tour Stonebridge and Bath, Greenwich and other London highlights. McIntosh said some students may go to Buckingham Palace while others go to the theater to see the Lion King and some will opt to do audio tours of the city. Other highlights for students include the British Library in London where John Lennon’s “Let it Be” lyrics are on display, St. Paul’s Cathedral and London’s Natural History Museum.
“They’ll be all over the place,” she said. “They’ll get to see a lot of different things while we are there.”
McIntosh said she appreciated all the hard work students have done to afford the trip overseas. McIntosh also said she was grateful for the efforts of the Troy Music Boosters and their help with fund raisers. McIntosh said every student who expressed interest in going on the trip was able to go.
“The best part of this trip is when students come back or email you or see after they graduate,” McIntosh said. “They really enjoy this trip because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of them.”
McIntosh said photos of the band’s participation will be posted periodically on Troy High School Facebook page. Although there will be no video footage of the band’s performance in London, McIntosh said Londoners and parade lovers often post videos on YouTube.com of the marching bands. After London’s New Year’s Day Parade, simply search for “New Year’s Day Parade London Troy Marching Band” and a video may be available online.