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Ida Baker raising funds to participate in 2018 London New Year’s Day Parade

By Staff | Mar 25, 2016

Billed as the world’s greatest event and held in the greatest city in the world, not just any marching band can participate in the London New Year’s Day Parade. Bands must be invited.

Not just anyone can extend such a special invitation, either. So, all the way from London, former Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster Duncan Sandys arrived at Ida Baker High School Wednesday to invite the Bulldogs Marching Band to participate in the London New Year’s Day Parade on Jan. 1, 2018.

Executive director of the parade for the last 31 years, Robert Bone told those assembled in the school’s auditorium that 8,500 people participate in the parade each year, which is more than double the participation in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

“Spectators begin showing up along the 2.2-mile parade route early in the morning, long before the 12 o’clock midday start of the parade,” Bone said. “There were more than 670,000 spectators watching this year’s parade, and why do two-thirds of a million people watch our parade? Because of you! The marching bands we invite from 20 different countries around the world to spectacularly entertain us. It’s a one-of-a-kind event.”

The parade is seen by more than 300 million people in those 20 countries, including the United States, through live streaming and broadcast TV.

“We don’t have marching bands like you do,” said Bone, “but we love bands in England. You will be TV stars even if only for a brief moment.”

Sandys, the great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, England’s former Prime Minister during World War II, told the band members, “This is an experience you will carry with you the rest of your lives. You won’t just be marching in the parade, you will have opportunities to see London, go on walking guided tours. You won’t be tucked away in a hotel recuperating from jet-lag, you will be on the go for a whole week in London, and loving every minute of it.”

Some of Baker’s 54 current band members will have graduated over the next 18 months before the trip even arrives.

“My daughter is a junior this year and will be gone,” said Steve Poladian, president of the band booster club. “We are authorized to take up to 100 people on the trip, which will include parents and chaperones. Perhaps we can find a few spots for alumni, but that will be up to the principal.”

The Bulldogs band members will now set out to raise $330,000 to cover the expenses for the 100 people on the trip. That’s $3,300 per person.

“We’ve got 18 months to raise the money with car washes, bake sales, donations from people and businesses around town,” said Poladian. “This is the biggest parade ever for us, sure beats the Edison Festival of Lights Parade we march in almost every year.”

Principal Jami Covert congratulated the band members.

“You are amazing, talented students and your hard work has not gone unnoticed,” Covert said.