MAHS Marching Band invited to perform in London’s 2025/26 New Year’s Day Parade

Founder of the historic parade and great-grandson of Sir. Winston Churchill personally deliver the invitation

Dundan Sandys, great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, gives members of the Monroe Area High School Marching band information of the parade route they will follow when they perform in the 2025/2026 prestigious London New Year’s Day Parade in the United Kingdom. Photo credit: Sharon Swanepoel

MONROE, GA (March 5, 2024) – A very proud director of the Monroe Area High School Marching Canes, school officials and members of the MAHS Marching Canes were on campus Monday evening to receive a very prestigious invite from across the pond. The invitation was personally delivered from none other than Bob Bone, Founder and Chair of the World-renowned, London New Year’s Day Parade, and Duncan Sandys, the great grandson of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill.”

“The MAHS Marching Canes have been invited to march in the 40th Anniversary of the New Year’s Day parade in London during the 25/26 school year,” band director of MAHS Roy Denton announced when he received the invitation. “This is a tremendous honor to be invited to be a part of this event. They only invite a small number of bands from the US each year. Over 500 thousand people attend the parade in person each year, and the broadcast of the event reaches an international audience of over 300 million. We are beyond excited to receive this invitation.”

Bone said that when they poll the public on what is the best part of the parade each year, without fail the marching bands from the USA are cited as being number 1. He followed up with some good-natured ribbing about, however, the true game of football, “football, not soccer,” he noted, definitely goes to the Brits.

Bone and Sandys came bearing gifts, which included a framed invite, an official King Charles III Coronation plate and an official London New Year’s Day Parade coffee mug. Bone drew a laugh when he noted that he would have brought a tea cup since drinking hot tea is what the Brits are known for. However, in the light of the United States and British history with tea, he thought a coffee cup may be better received.

Members of the Monroe Area High School Marching Band hear details about their upcoming trip to London to perform in the 2025/2026 London New Year’s Day Parade. Photo credit: Sharon Swanepoel

The visitors were treated to an advanced performance by the band before they got to share some of the history of the London New Year’s Day Parade with those in attendance and students got to see a video of what they could expect.

Denton said the marching band would have a ‘life-changing week in the historic city’ when they visit at the end of 2025 for their participation in the parade. Not only will they be performing in the parade, but they also will have in a full educational program visiting museums, historic sites, and places of architectural and artistic interest.

“The 2026 parade, which will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary, will be one of the biggest and best in the event’s history, and will be screened live across the World – including the USA on the PBS Network. The festival concerts carry much cache – and utilize some of the most historic concert venues in London,” Denton said. “Mr Sandy’s, who now lives in Georgia, is an Ambassador of London’s New Year’s Day Parade and something of an historian re his great grandfather – Great Britain’s legendary wartime Prime Minister.”

Bone explained that the parade is much larger than the Macy’s Day parade with more than 8,000 performers from all over the world entertaining a street audience of around 500,000 and a global TV audience of tens of millions. The marching band’s performance will be made available to all TV stations in the region free of charge, including NPR in the USA, and will be streamed live around the World.

Monday’s ceremonial invite ended with another gift being bestowed on band member Gabriel Vancica, who is one of the students expected to travel to London to perform in the 2025/26 New Year’s Day Parade. It was an umbrella that he was told to “never let leave his body” between now and then as a way to ensure that there be no rain on the parade during the 2025/26 parade. His fellow band members were told to keep an eye on it, and share on social media any time he is seen without it. He has the sole responsibility of on keeping the rain away on their London parade performance.

Gabriel Vancica holds onto the umbrella that he has been entrusted with until members of the Monroe Area High School Marching Band perform in the 2025/2026 London New Year’s Day Parade. Photo credit: Sharon Swanepoel

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