The Marching 97 filled the streets of London with its music and energy as it joined in the city’s 2018 New Year’s Day Parade, which featured 8,000 performers from around the world.
For some band members, the moment seemed surreal as the Marching 97 marched past iconic landmarks, with thousands of spectators smiling and cheering them on. Among the spectators were President John D. Simon, who, at one point, walked with them along the 2.2-mile route, and several university alumni.
The band carried a banner that read, “The Finest Band East of All Points West.”
The Marching 97’s invitation to the televised parade grew out of its reputation and unique performing style. In November 2016, several British dignitaries visited the Lehigh campus to formally extend the invitation to the parade. Former Lord Mayor Catherine Longworth of the City of Westminster attended the formal ceremony at Lehigh’s President’s House, along with Robert Bone, the parade’s founder and executive director; Joe Bone, the parade’s director of logistics; and William Northen, senior director of international participation.
As part of the trip, the Marching 97 performed in the historic Cadogan Hall in Chelsea. Larissa Miller ’20, who found the experience humbling, said that the performance there was the defining moment of, “Wow, we are here.”
The Marching 97 also toured parts of London, including Oxford University and Windsor Castle.
Along its long and celebrated history, the Marching 97 has played at Carnegie Hall in 1963 and 1969, the New York World’s Fair in 1964, and Yankee Stadium in 2014 for the 150th Lehigh-Lafayette football game.
To read band member Jean-Pierre Villamar ’19’s story about the trip, see photos, and watch performance clips, go to go.lehigh.edu/lehighlondon.