Editor's note: the following story was submitted by the Cherokee County School District.
The River Ridge High School Marching Knights this week accepted a privileged invitation to perform in the largest New Year’s Day parade in the world in London, England on January 1, 2016.
The former Lord Mayor of Westminster, Duncan Sandys, traveled to the school Monday, March 24, along with Robert Bone, executive director of London’s New Year’s Day Parade, to extend the formal invitation to the band members.
River Ridge’s Wind Symphony played "His Honor March" and "Incantation and Dance" for the visiting dignitaries from London, followed by the school’s Percussion Ensemble performing "Super Nova" and the Varsity Winter Guard’s dance performance entitled, "The Fountain of Youth."
The London parade typically has more 9,000 participants, twice the size of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade held annually in New York.
More than 640,000 people assembled along the parade route last year, while over 300 million watched the parade on television. The parade in 2016 will be the 30th anniversary of the event.
Lord Mayor Sandys, whose great-grandfather is the famous former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, presented River Ridge Principal Darrell Herring with a coat of arms from the city of Westminster, along with a pair of cufflinks.
River Ridge Band Director Daniel Gray received a crystal paperweight and cufflinks, and drum majors Mia Cellino and Leanza Baccala received commemorative pins. The school presented the London dignitaries with gift baskets of Georgia products such as peanuts and Coca-Cola, Service League of Cherokee County cookbooks, as well as River Ridge items.
The London parade hosts high school bands from the U.S. each year through its Youth Music program, which includes an educational program tour while in England. River Ridge students will be fundraising to cover the cost of the trip.
The Marching Knights have received multiple “best in class” awards since the school opened in 2010 history, including several Division Championships and a Grand Championship.
The Marching Knights will also be representing the state of Georgia in this year’s National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C.