Hempfield band invited to march in 2020 London New Year’s Day Parade

October 3, 2018
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Above, crowds line the grandstand at the 2018 London New Year's Day Parade.

The Hempfield Area High School marching band will soon be headed across the pond.

The band was officially invited by the former Lord Mayor of London to march in the English capital’s 2020 London New Year’s Day Parade.

“It’s amazing,” said Hempfield Band Boosters President Rudy Oblak. “In 2005, they went to the Tournament of Roses Parade (in Pasadena, Calif.), but as far as the recent past, this is by far the biggest honor.”

Band students were greeted on Friday by Councillor Robert Davis, the former Lord Mayor of London, who officially invited them to participate.

Not to be confused with the actual elected mayor of London, the Lord Mayor is a ceremonial title, serving as an international ambassador for the U.K.’s financial and professional services sector.

“They processed through the school to the auditorium, where we had the whole marching band as well as parents and local dignitaries waiting,” band director Brian Tychinski said.

Featuring twice as many participants as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, London’s New Year’s Day Parade is broadcast to a live audience of more than 1 million people, is streamed to 280 million homes worldwide and will feature 16 marching bands, which are a unique curiosity for U.K. residents, according to Oblak.

“In England, they don’t have (school) marching bands,” he said. “So of the 8,500 people who take part in the parade itself, the citizens of London are really intrigued by U.S. marching bands, because they simply don’t have them.”

If band members want the chance to march in the parade, though, they have a lot of hoagies to sell: the estimated cost per student is about $3,200.

“The hoagie sales continue to be very popular,” Tychinski said. “And we’re also looking into some activities similar to (fundraising we did) when we went to the Rose Bowl in 2005: looking for some alumni benefactors, doing some social media promotion and drawing awareness to the trip to bring in some outside funding.”

Hempfield band members have traveled in the past to Texas, Florida and even Honolulu. But international travel promises to be something totally unique, Tychinski said.

“The whole European experience will be quite new to our students,” he said. “I’ve been to Europe, but I’ve never been to England. Watching the pageantry and celebration they do, it’s sort of a level higher than we’re used to.”

Donations to the marching band can be arranged by emailing Tychinski at tychinskib@hasdpa.net.

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