Herd of Thunder prepares for London parade

With the London New Years Day Parade coming up in a few weeks, Herd of Thunder (HOT) band members are getting excited to travel abroad to represent USF in the parade.

Itll be the first thing weve ever done outside of the Tampa Bay area, Trevor Butts, a junior majoring in music education, said. Were really looking forward to getting our name out there, nationally and worldwide now as well.

The band was selected to perform in summer 2011, but could not announce it until February.

Matthew McCutchen, associate director of bands and director of Athletic Bands, said the students will also have a chance to travel around London to visit Greenwich, the Tower of London, the University of Oxford and the Queens residence of Windsor Castle.

The people who run the parade called me, McCutchen said. They had heard about USF and asked if Id be interested in doing it. Then the (former) Lord Mayor of Westminster came over and officially gave us the invitation (in the spring).

Butts is one of the four drum majors for HOT, and will be playing the trumpet during the parade on New Years Day. Butts said his family has been supportive of the opportunity, helping him pay for his trip. The cost for students was estimated at $3,000 per HOT member, and covers the flight, hotel and activities in England.

Everything combined would be way more than $3,000 if you do it by yourself, Butts said.

Another HOT drum major, Danielle Batcheller, a junior majoring in music education, said going to London for the parade means a lot more to her than just representing USF. She also has family roots in England.

My dads side of the family is English, Batcheller said. So for me going over to see the history is really important since we came over on the Mayflower. Its real direct for me and I feel like I have a tie (with the country).

Batcheller said her mom was also supportive of the experience, and that it will be her first trip outside the U.S. She said the trip to London is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and going with friends on HOT makes it better. In London, she plans to go see the play Les Miserables and is taking the tunnel to Paris with a group to see the Eiffel Tower, the Tuileries Garden at the Louvre and the famous cathedrals.

When Christy Hobby, a junior majoring in music education and color guard captain, learned about the London trip, she immediately started saving for it.

My sister helped me out a little bit, Hobby said. I started saving from working and student loans.

It will be Hobbys first time leaving the country as well, and she said she is excited to visit the museums in London and sights in Paris.

Butts family will be joining him in London to watch the parade on the streets, he said. His father is a minister of music, and he said that it just clicked for him to join band when he started middle school.

The parade is going to be televised not only in Europe but in the U.S. as well, Butts said. So maybe you can catch me on TV.

The parade will begin at 6:45 a.m. EST on New Years Day.