Taking it to the Streets of London

USF’s Herd of Thunder is invited to march in world’s largest New Year’s Day parade in London.


By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 27, 2012) – Easy to single out in his distinguished official red robes trimmed in fur, the Lord Mayor of Westminster Duncan Sandys received a warm and rousing welcome from USF President Judy Genshaft and the energetic music of the USF Herd of Thunder at the School of Music concert hall. 


What brought them out early Monday morning was a ceremony in which Sandys delivered the official invitation for the Herd to march in London’s New Year’s Parade – the biggest event of its kind in the world.


The Lord Mayoralty was accompanied by London Parade and Festival Founder Robert Bone who explained that though he did not “have the power or the authority” to invite the USF Herd of Thunder to London, he could at least give them a preview of the highlights along the parade route – among them Piccadilly Circus and #10 Downing Street.  According to protocol, only the Mayor himself can extend the invitation which he did graciously reading from the engraved silver-framed official document.  Thunderous applause and a standing ovation followed.


USF is the first university on Sandys’ tour, which has him crisscrossing the nation between the east and west coasts.  Several bands and choruses from the United States will take part in the parade on Jan. 1, 2013.  The annual event parade raises funds for charity.


Karen Holbrook, USF’s Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation & Global Affairs, explained to the esteemed guests that USF features a “wonderful globalized faculty” and that USF’s commitment to developing a globalized student body is preparing people who will serve as “global stewards and global leaders.” She also pointed out that the United Kingdom is one of USF’s “Countries of Emphasis” and that USF currently has 33 students from there and is actively recruiting more.


When the Herd of Thunder takes part in the parade, millions will see the band. According to Bone, the 27-year-old celebration is seen by more than 300 million viewers around the world.


The Lord Mayor mentioned that what is typically called London is actually the City of Westminster. It is, “the city at the heart of London, the seat of power, the national government, economic life, the arts and theater,” he said. He also advised band members to make special note of a statue at the end of the parade route in Parliament Square.  It depicts his great grandfather, Winston Churchill. 


Also welcoming the Lord Mayor were College of The Arts Interim Dean Barton Lee, Interim School of Music Director Josef Knott, Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Conducting John C. Carmichael, Marching Band Director and Assistant Director of Bands Matthew McCutchen and Associate Vice President for Global Academic Programs Roger Brindley, part of the leadership team for USF World.  


After an exchange of gifts Herd of Thunder uniformed Show Band members followed by other members of the Herd gathered on stage for photos with Sandys. All are looking forward to what Bone described as, “a great way to start the new year.  It’s a huge event.”


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.