McNeese State University’s Pride of McNeese Marching Band received a prestigious invitation on Friday to the 2018 London New Year’s Day Parade and Festival from the Former Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster and Senior Parade Patron Catherine Longworth. Surrounding the official invitation to the event are from left: drum major Nick Bedwell, Dr. Jay Jacobs, director of bands, drum major Austin Vallot, Judy Fuller, a member of the McNeese Foundation Board of Directors, McNeese President Dr. Philip Williams and Longworth.
(November 11, 2016) In a grand ceremony, McNeese State University’s Pride of McNeese Marching Band received a prestigious invitation on Friday to the 2018 London New Year’s Day Parade and Festival “across the pond.”
Former Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster and Senior Parade Patron Catherine Longworth – who is representing Queen Elizabeth II - traveled to the McNeese campus in person to present the official invitation to an audience of band members, parents, administrators, faculty, staff and community leaders gathered in Tritico Theatre.
Longworth was accompanied to McNeese by Robert Bone, executive director of the parade. Accepting the invitation on behalf of the Pride of McNeese Marching was President Philip Williams, Dr. Jay Jacobs, director of bands, and student band officers.
“We are honored to receive this invitation,” said Williams. “What a great opportunity for our students and our band program. We our so proud of our Pride of McNeese Marching Band.”
Bone also presented gifts to the university from Buckingham Palace.
Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach presented the key to the city to the Lord Mayor and then presented both Longworth and Bone with honorary citizenships. “This key unlocks the heart of Southwest Louisiana and unites us in spirit with other people around the world.”
Participation in the 32nd London New Year’s Day Parade and Festival is by invitation only. A music program must be nominated to the selection committee by a previous participant or one of the Regional Directors of Music for consideration to receive an invitation. Then each fall, the Lord Mayoralty decides upon a select number of groups that it wishes to visit in the United States to extend an invitation to the parade. This year 16 American bands have been invited and only two are university marching bands.
This historic parade route includes Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall with a final arena adjacent to the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Over 650,000 spectators will line the parade route and over 350 million people will view the TV broadcast worldwide, according to Bone.
“This will be a tremendous educational opportunity for our students to travel abroad and a great honor to represent McNeese State University, the city of Lake Charles, the state of Louisiana and the United States on an international level,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs said that individual band students will be responsible for the majority of the expenses, which are estimated to be $3,350, which includes six days/six nights in the United Kingdom, as well as two travel days.
“Through a fundraising campaign, we will be attempting to assist the students in easing their individual financial commitment as much as possible,” explained Jacobs. “Our goal is to raise at least $160,000, which would reduce each student’s expenses by $1,000. Every donation, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated."
Individuals, groups or businesses can donate to the band travel fund through the McNeese Foundation. Donations can be made online at www.mcneesefoundation.org or by calling 337-475-5588.