The Shenandoah University Marching Band, which made its debut last fall, will perform on an international stage when it participates in London’s New Year’s Day Parade in 2025 alongside SU cheerleaders and the Shenandoah Conservatory Studio Big Band.
Shenandoah accepted the formal invitation from Bob Bone, founder and chairman of the London New Year’s Day Parade, and Steve Summers, chairman of the London Mayors’ Association, during a special surprise announcement on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at SU’s James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics and Events Center.
London’s New Year’s Day Parade has taken place annually since 1987 and is entering its 38th year. The parade attracts over 8,500 participants from over 20 countries and draws 670,000 spectators each year, Bone said, and has an international TV audience of 340 million homes. The parade is televised on PBS in the United States.
“It is an honor for Shenandoah to be selected to participate in this historic parade,” said Shenandoah Director of Athletic Bands Shaun Evans, D.M.A. “This trip will be the first time that many of our students get to travel out of the country and I look forward to all of the wonderful experiences and memories that await them in London.”
Wednesday morning’s special announcement featured performances by the SU Marching Band, cheerleaders and the Shenandoah Conservatory Studio Big Band. The announcement was a surprise to most band members and cheerleaders, who were only told that they were performing for a special announcement.
Bone teased the marching band, cheerleaders, and Studio Big Band by hinting at the parade and its location before disclosing the nature of the surprise announcement to rousing cheers from Shenandoah students. Summers extended individual framed, formal invitations to the Shenandoah Marching Band, cheerleaders and Studio Big Band.
On behalf of the whole of London and all of the mayors of the boroughs, I want to say thank you in advance to each and every single one of you, because it’s only a great event because we have amazing, amazing young people performing in that event. I’ve heard how good you were, and I’ve just seen how good you are. You’re absolutely amazing and you’re going to make our event extra special. You guys are the best of the best. We only want the best in London and we only want the best in this event, and you guys, I know, are exactly that.”
Steve Summers, chairman of the London Mayors’ Association, to SU band members and cheerleaders
Shenandoah President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., received a commemorative plate on behalf of the British monarchy, and Evans and Matt Niess, D.M.A., director of the Studio Big Band, received LNYDP cufflinks and coffee mugs commemorating the coronation of King Charles III.
SU acting student Izzy Miller ’26, a member of the marching band uniform crew, received a special London New Year’s Day Parade umbrella signifying Shenandoah’s commitment to performing in the parade in 15 months. Bone, in jest, told Miller that she must keep the umbrella on her person at all times until Shenandoah completes its participation in the parade, a tradition parade officials began several years ago to ward off poor weather the day of the event.
“It was so exciting! We’re going to London!” Miller (pictured left with Summers) exclaimed. “I have never been to London before and I love the marching band with all my heart, so I can’t wait to travel with all of my friends and be part of this amazing day. I’m most excited to see everything in London, to be a tourist for a whole week, and to just hear the roar of the crowd as we walk through the parade and to be like, ‘Hey mom, I’m on TV!’”
The entire announcement was livestreamed and is available for viewing on Shenandoah University’s YouTube channel.
Shenandoah University’s Marching Band debuted in Fall 2022 with 73 members and has already grown to 125 members this academic year.
To help fund the marching band’s trip to London, please consider making a donation to the Shenandoah Marching Band at advancement.su.edu.