A group of West Orange High School students are getting the opportunity to ring in 2020 watching fireworks along the River Thames and listening to the chimes of Big Ben before stepping off in the London New Year’s Day Parade.
British dignitaries were in Winter Garden on Monday, Sept. 24, to hand deliver a prestigious invitation to the West Orange High School Marching Band and its director, Kenneth Boyd.
This will be the first time the WOHS band performs internationally, Boyd said.
The meeting Monday night also served as a platform to express the need for fundraising.
“We (are) asking for everyone’s support to make this trip possible for all our students,” Boyd said.
A link has been set up on the band’s website, westorangeband.com, for people interested in making a donation.
“We are hoping for lots of help to make this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity possible for all our students,” Boyd said.
An email sent to Boyd from Dan Kirkby, communications director of the London New Year’s Day Parade, read, in part:
“The West Orange High School Marching Band is to perform before a global TV audience of tens of millions at the UK Capital’s turn-of-year tradition — London’s New Year’s Day Parade in 2020. The event, renowned as one of the world’s great street spectaculars, selects only the very best U.S. marching bands to take part in the huge extravaganza.”
The band will join about 8,000 performers from numerous nations and parade past London’s iconic landmarks on Jan. 1, 2020.
“The West Orange Band has a long tradition of performing excellence,” Boyd said. “While performing is important to us, our real goal is to help nurture and develop in our students things that are often overlooked in school. One part of this is to grow their world. We have many students who have never traveled outside of Florida, or even their community. We know that exposing them to new places can have a profound impact on what they believe is possible to achieve in their lives.”
The popular parade attracts a street audience in excess of 500,000; millions more around the world watch it on television.
Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.