USFs Herd of Thunder (HOT) marching band stepped off the airplane after performing as the band of honor at Londons New Years Day parade two days before classes started.
The band, invited by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, flew to London over winter break to perform in the parade. Before and after the parade, the band had the opportunity to tour the city and other locations, such as Paris, France.
Though the majority of their stay was wet and cloudy and the band practiced daily, there was never a dull moment, HOT drum major Danielle Batcheller, a junior majoring in music education, said.
What was really cool was (that) we played a lot, she said. Nobody heard the same song twice.
After visiting the Buckingham Palace soon after they arrived on Dec. 28, the band reported to Trafalgar Square with 70 other bands and groups in the parade to perform a 20-minute preview of what audiences could expect to hear later at the parade.
Matthew McCutchen, the associate director of bands and director of Athletic Bands, chose the selection, including USFs fight song, The Bull, Rolling in the Deep, Shout it Out and Brooklyn.
But on the day of the parade, Batcheller said the weather was absolutely amazing, despite the cold temperatures.
Our uniforms served a good purpose of (being) heavy and warm, Batcheller said.
The parade began at noon in Berkeley Square, with people lining up to watch hours earlier. The parade was broadcast via live satellite, and included celebrities such as British television star Matt Smith from the television show Doctor Who. The schools mascot, Rocky, also had an appearance with the band, marching alongside them.
Color Guard Captain Christy Hobby, a junior majoring in music education, said during the march they had time to talk to people on the route during breaks.
We would perform The Bull or Shout it Out and (McCutchen) would say All right, go talk to people, she said. I was near the front (of HOTs formation) and I met these two little kids. Them and their mom followed us throughout the parade literally from the beginning to the end. They walked with the band.
As the one band of honor
selected by the Lord Mayor, HOT had a spotlight on TV to perform Adeles Rolling in the Deep.
Though the event aired in the UK and via satellite, some band members, like drum major Trevor Butts, a junior majoring in music education, said his family planned to join the band in London to watch them perform live.
They were later joined by U.S. college and high school bands to perform a mash-up of the James Bond theme and the Beatles I Want to Hold Your Hand.
Hobby said marching at the parade felt like a relief.
You finally get to enjoy it, Hobby said. I was really nervous the day before because Id never been out of the country (and) Id never been on a plane ride that long.
The day before they were due to leave London, a group of the band members took theunderground train to Paris for the day, where they visited the Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe on theChamps-lyses.
For five euros we walked up to the first floor (of the Eiffel Tower), Batcheller said. We didnt realize how many stairs there were. But it was a great experience. It was everything we were told it would be. It was exciting.
Now the 122 HOT members who traveled to London and those who didnt will continue to perform at school events, such as basketball games.