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U.S. Bands March Despite Rain With AM-World-New Year, Bjt

January 1, 1988

LONDON (AP) _ It rained on their parade, but five American high school bands and a drill team dazzled their audience during a New Year’s Day march through one of the city’s main shopping districts.

″This is the most fun I’ve had with a marching band in my life,″ said a sodden but pleased Karen Heddan, director of the 110-strong Brick Memorial High School Marching band from Brick Township, N.J.

Her ensemble formed part of a 700-member U.S. contingent at the second Lord Mayor of Westminster’s parade. Organizers hope it will become an annual event on the scale of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

Lord Mayor Kevin Gardner was optimistic the parade would become ″an important feature to start the New Year.″

He was echoed by Harry Weblin, chairman of the Liberty and Co. Ltd. department store chain. Weblin donated the balcony of his flagship outlet on Regent Street as a reviewing stand for Gardner to salute the passing marchers.

″I believe London has to do things like this for entertaining people who have long holidays,″ he said, noting New Year’s Day is typically quiet in the British capital.

Continual light rain kept crowds far below the 750,000 anticipated along Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street, but many shoppers took time off from their browsing to watch the performers file past.

Londoner Barbara Ward admired the stiff upper lip displayed by the shivering flag girls of the Warwick High School Marching Band from Lititz, Pa.

The biggest applause went to the Half Time Drill Team of Houston, which performed a kick-line accompanied by ″Deep in the Heart of Texas.″

The 2,500 performers also included the John Carroll School Band from Bel Air, Md.; the Rocky Mount High School Marching Band from Rocky Mount, N.C.; and the Northridge High School Marching Band from Whitney, Ind.

They were joined by floats, Care Bears and ″Miami Mice″ cartoon characters, and traditional British drum-and-pipe brigades.

The bands were chosen from 100 invited to submit applications to the agency organizing the parade, Youth Music for the World.

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