Sussex Tech band to play in London parade
When the Lord Mayor of Westminster, England, personally invites you to perform at a British New Year’s parade, you march!
Sussex Technical High School hosted Lord Mayor Angela Harvey from Westminster, London, on Feb. 25 as she invited the Ravens Nation Marching Band to march in the 2014 London New Year’s Day Parade.
Dressed in full regalia, including fur-lined red robes and the chains and jewels of her office, Harvey addressed a gymnasium full of Tech students, staff and parents. She was escorted by the Tech drum line.
With 8,000 participants, 2 or 3 million spectators on the street and 300 million television viewers worldwide, the London parade is comparable to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. International acts perform by invitation only.
“It’s thrilling to walk behind and listen to the cadence and listen to the music,” said Harvey, who described the energy of the crisp New Year’s morning. “Music is wonderful and uplifting.”
The Lord Mayor herself leads the parade in a horse-drawn carriage.
The City of Westminster is a borough located in the center of London, containing the famed Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the seat of government, Parliament.
Bob Bone, executive director of the parade and festival, complimented the Tech band’s rendition of the traditional song “Rule, Britannia.”
As the first Brit to address the crowd, Bone joked, “So we’re clear, I am English. And I do not have an accent. You all do.”
Bone said the parade has “spies all over America” to find the best talent. Sussex Tech was doubly nominated by past parade participants, by A.I. DuPont High School’s former director and by Delaware State University, where Sussex Tech Band Director Harvey Bullock Jr. was assistant director when DSU marched in 1995.
“It was a total surprise to me,” said Bullock of the nominations. “We were fortunate to have some recognition for what we do downstate — nice to have our reputation precede ourselves.”
Bone said American bands are sought because of their “razzmatazz style.” The English visitors toured the U.S. to personally invite seven groups to perform in the parade, from Delaware musicians to Texas dancers. The parade features 20 dance and musical acts, 30 floats from each of the London boroughs and 20 specialty acts.
“We’re looking for a really, really tight, fun unit that looks good and sounds good,” said Bone. “These guys just make it look like they’re having fun.”
“We are thrilled. We are so excited to go over,” said M.J. Green, sophomore drum major.
“To represent the state and our school, where we have learned our skills to perform together as a band,” said senior drum major Janoria Bullock.
Tech Principal John Demby thanked the school’s band boosters for their hard work and the school board for allowing such an ambitious venture.
This is Sussex Tech’s first international trip. They have performed in the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade, at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and in the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago, Ill.
“I already know they’re going to have a wonderful time because what I experienced in person — Big Ben, the crown jewels,” said Bullock.
With barely 10 months to fundraise for a 10-day trip, the 150-member Ravens Nation Marching Band is seeking support from the community they represent. Tech students come from all over the county.
“We come together as a nation to represent the entire county,” said Bullock. “We need everyone’s help. Our goal is not to leave any band member behind on this trip.”
Tax-deducible contributions can be made to Raven Music Boosters and sent to Sussex Tech High School, c/o Harvey Bullock; P.O. Box 351; Georgetown, DE 19947.