Walker Valley HS Mustang Band rings in the New Year in London
While we were ringing in the New Year here in the east, the Walker Valley High School Band and Choir was getting ready for a performance and an adventure in England.
They've been going over to help represent the states every three years for the last 15 years, an amazing tradition that's as much about these students making memories as it is about making music.
"This was the best parade we've ever had," Band Director Donald Benton said. "This was incredible for our kids."
These Walker Valley High School students didn't mind starting the new year 4,100 miles away from home.
Nearly a hundred of the Mustang Band were joined by choir members as they marched and played, danced and sang along the historic streets of London.
The Lord Mayor's New Year's Day Parade is called "The World's Greatest Street Spectacular," and took them from Piccadilly Circus to Trafalgar Square, on to Parliament Square.
"It was surreal," Olivia Forrester, a choir member, said. "Like, I've always been, like, 'I'm going to go to London, some day.' There were people waving at me; in some places it was 16 deep."
The choir was ferried on a mic'd truck bed. The band and dance team marched the route, early enough in line to perform in front of peak crowd.
Were they nervous?
"Not really, to be completely honest. Once we got up there, it was cool, but I never really get nervous anymore. See the people rather than getting caught up and blah blah," Isabella Dibernardo, a junior band member, said.
Okay, Director Donald Benton may have had a few butterflies.
"You know, we haven't been able to practice," Benton explained. The band kids haven't been able to practice in the past three weeks because we had to ship our instruments over.">
But, they delivered.
It's a packed schedule.
"Yesterday, we got to do the Tower of London, we went to Greenwich to the Royal Observatory, and then tomorrow, we are going to Windsor Castle and Oxford, tomorrow," Choral Director Melanie Oran explained.
And it's a trip and a performance they'll never forget.
"There were so many people; the city was beautiful. They just responded to us so much more than they've ever responded. It was incredible," Benton added.
The Walker Valley Band and Choir comes home on Friday. Safe travels.