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London New Years Day Parade 2021!

posted Nov 17, 2018, 4:13 PM by Athens Drive High School Band

Yes!  We’re going to London!

After many YEARS of thought, the booster board, our school administration, and our band staff have decided to take our incredible band program abroad for the first time in the 40-year history of Athens Drive!  We have had the privilege of performing throughout much of the Eastern United States, from New York City to Tampa, Florida; from Indianapolis to Annapolis.  We’ve performed on the nation’s biggest stages including Carnegie Hall and the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s Stadium for the Outback Bowl.  In all these ventures, our parents, students, and staff have pulled together to create successful, positive, life-changing experiences for everyone involved.  It is time to spread our wings further and embrace the challenges of taking this band overseas!

Who’s invited?  1) Our Marching Band will be playing for the famous London New Year’s Day Parade, a two-mile parade that traverses some of London’s most iconic venues; 2) A concert ensemble (comprised of students not in marching band and the oldest of our members) will perform at least 1 concert in one of London’s famous venues; 3) Students who graduate in June, 2020 will be permitted to return and perform! 

It is understood that there will be many new and wonderful challenges embarking on this journey, from fundraising to logistics such as securing passports, airfare, and shipping instruments/equipment, to establishing an itinerary that allows students to travel safely, efficiently, and comfortably.  We will be forming a committee to research, plan and implement all the components involved with this venture.  The good news is that many high school bands have participated in this parade (which is over 35 years old), several of which are from North Carolina.  Also, the folks in London are wonderful to work with!  They are organized, enthusiastic, and very experienced!  I’ve really enjoyed planning this trip over the past few months with them!

We are announcing this trip among our band members and our local community over 2 years in advance in order for our organization to have adequate time to prepare and for everyone to have enough time to raise needed funds (including current 7th and 8th graders headed our way).  The safe target amount for this trip is $3,500 per student.  Our booster board and the London Committee will work to find many different ways for students and families to raise funds—including some “go-fund-me” campaigns.  You may wish to think of it this way:  If every student raises/saves $150 a month for the next 2 years, you are all set!  I realize that this is still a very lofty goal for some; however, we’ve got a great community here to help.  Although it has never been our policy to use operating expense money for trips, we will consider offering some assistance to students/families who have been actively involved in our band’s fundraising efforts.  In other words, if you want to go on this trip, and you believe that you’ll need some assistance, you MUST make a significant effort toward participating in our band’s fundraisers on a consistent basis!

You can expect a good overview and timeline for this trip, including projected dates when moneys are due, in a few months.  We will have a representative from London formally announce this trip to our school most likely during a football game next October.  [They actually come out dressed in “full regalia.”  As the London folks told me, they will NOT look like they’re from America.]  We’ll also be posting a big banner outside under our “HOME of the Athens Drive Band” sign as we did for the Outback Bowl and there will be loads of media coverage!  It’s going to be LIT!

I realize that this is a lot to digest—but it’s all good!  My 33-year experience as an educator has taught me that groups that have a challenging but realistic goal, something to plan for, something to look forward to, are significantly more productive in the long haul than groups that do not.  I’ve also discovered that you cannot “stand-still” in life:  You are either growing or declining.  We have a tremendous, healthy band program here at Athens Drive and it is time to lift it to another level.  With everyone’s help and positive energy, WE WILL DO THIS!   

Ya gotta luv it!