By Eric Newman
The Campo Verde High School marching band will kick off 2020 in style, marching in the London New Year’s Day Parade and Festival, the largest parade in the world.
The Coyotes performed several songs for parade representatives, who traveled from England to the Gilbert school on April 12. The English organization formally invited the performers and band staff to take part in the event.
American marching bands are among Britons’ favorite acts.
“They come because they want to see you and your fantastic performances,” said Bob Bone, the executive director of the London New Year’s Day Parade and Festival. “The favorite thing – among those 670,000 people when we poll – is the marching bands from the United States of America. They love it because we just don’t have marching bands like you.”
Crowds come out in full force to prove that. Bone said the parade draws nearly 8,000 participants and hundreds of thousands of attendees. More than 670 million people watched it on television in 2017.
Campo Verde band booster president Rene Nasluchacz said the musicians were stunned to receive the offer. It is the band’s greatest opportunity, next to the Coyotes’ appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March, she said.
“It’s probably the pinnacle in our band’s history,” she said. “The band grows every year, and it’s just an experience that makes them encapsulated in the music, but just takes them outside the city and community, and allows them to perform at the largest parade in the world.”
The hard work begins now, as band director Matt Kozacek must prepare the Coyotes to ensure they put on a spectacular performance for the worldwide audience.
The band typically does field shows and short routines during high school football games. Kozacek will spend hours with the band to perfect parade marching, straight lines and conditioning to play for more than three hours in 2020’s parade. He is certain his students are up to the challenge.
“They’re a great group. The program is growing like crazy,” he said. “When I started here four years ago, there were 30 kids in the marching band, and now we have next year about 110 kids. It’s taking off, and they’re dedicated so I think it will work great.”
The upcoming trip is motivating potential Coyotes to join the band. For middle-schoolers, the prospect of traveling to one of the world’s greatest cities to perform is enough to pick up their instruments and continue practicing.
“The seventh and eighth graders who are going to be coming to our school soon, they’re all super excited. I was explaining it to them, and it makes the kids want to raise funds and practice. It shows that there are rewards to the hard work they can put in,” Kozacek said.
Presenting a parade-sponsored umbrella as a gesture to stave off rain when Campo Verde comes to Europe, former Lord Mayor of Westminster Steve Summers said the entire city will be thankful for school’s effort.
“I’ve seen many marching bands over many years and many parades, and I can see without a doubt that you’re going to be right up there with any of the best,” he said. “From all of us in London, we want to thank you for deciding to come out to play for us in 2020.”