Shawnee Mission West band members are preparing for a record-breaking start to the year 2021.
That is when they will march in the London New Year’s Day Parade for the 10th time. They have been invited to perform at the parade more than any other band in the world participating from outside of the United Kingdom. This week, parade officials, who had traveled from London, visited the school to formally present an invitation to band members to participate.
Jonathan Whaley, a parade representative, read a statement on behalf of Robert Bone, parade executive director, congratulating the band on its many appearances. Bone stated he is certain “just like all predecessors this band will ‘wow’ the London crowds.”
Parade organizers predict 10,000 participants will march on the streets for more than 500,000 people in the audience and a television audience of more than 300 million.
The officials presented a framed invitation to junior Amelia Hart, who will serve as drum major in the parade. One of her goals in between now and then is to help bring band members together as a team.
“I’m looking forward to everything,” Hart said. “It will be such an accomplishment. We have a lot of work to do between now and then, but we’ll all be working together toward a common goal.”
Earlier in the week, students celebrated the accomplishment of one of their London preparation goals. Director Bill Thomas had promised the students that if they raised $12,000 at a car wash, he would dye his hair pink. Students raised more than $14,500. Thomas and Kevin Hupe, band teacher, kept their word and changed their hair color to pink.
Thomas said he participated in the hair dyeing because he wanted to encourage the students to stretch themselves, saying he always wants them to “dig deeper” in everything they do as a band.
Before the London invitation ceremony was over, the London officials, Board of Education member Laura Guy, and Principal Steve Loe exchanged gifts relating to their respective cities. Mayor Carl Gerlach and the London officials also exchanged gifts and Senator Dinah Sykes presented greetings from the Kansas Senate.