The playlist this year for the Downers Grove North Marching Band includes classics from The Beatles. A pleasant coincidence, as they performed the songs for a delegation from London who flew all they way across the pond just to invite the band to participate in London's annual New Year's Day parade in 2011. The surprise announcement was music to their ears.
London's New Year's Day parade has been a tradition for nearly 25 years and featured prominently are American marching bands, a novelty to the British, who have only in recent years formed their own bands.
"It does really bring pizzazz to the streets of London on what used to be a very dull day," said Lord Roger Bramble, deputy lieutenant of London.
"I think that's really cool to get to share some of our culture--we've diverged from their culture so it's cool that we get to share and give it back," said Emily Temple-Wood, marching band percussionist.
Downers Grove has shared its talents with the world before, marching in last year's Indianapolis 500 parade, as well as parades throughout Europe. That put them on London's radar, where delegates look for the best of the best.
"We found that our students really embrace that opportunity to represent their community and they take a lot of pride in representing their school," said Bill Miller, marching band director.
"Education isn't complete without travel. And we all are here because we love making music, and the opportunities we get to travel are just tremendous," said Perry Martin, marching band drum major.