Tuesday, February 7, 2023

World watches Bowie Band march in London

January 9, 2015  

by Ann Fowler

Nearly two years after former Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Duncan Sandys, surprised the members and parents of the James Bowie marching band with an invitation to perform in the prestigious London’s New Year’s Day Parade, 200 students did just that on New Year’s Day.

The parade attracts a TV audience of nearly 300 million viewers worldwide, and has twice as many participants as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The parade started at noon at Piccadilly at Berkely Street, with the route finishing at Parliament Square.

“It was the thrill of a lifetime to see these hard working students march the streets of London,” said Becky Stephenson. Her daughter, Kelly, a junior at Bowie, is a Junior Lieutenant in the Color Guard. Stephenson was one of 100 parents who made the trip.

More than 8,500 parade participants marched, danced and performed along the 2.2-mile route packed with more than half a million spectators.

“The parade was fantastic,” said Bowie Band Director Kim Shuttlesworth. “It was great to walk the same streets as people the students read about in the history books. The views were gorgeous!”

The students were kept busy in their week in London. Shuttlesworth said group sightseeing included:

• London by Boat

• Greenwich and the observatory

• Tower of London

• London by Bus — St. Paul’s, Buckingham Palace

• Oxford

• Windsor Castle

• London Eye

• Westminster Abbey

Individual sightseeing included the National Gallery, The Imperial War Museum, the British Museum, Covent Garden and Abbey Road.

Said Stephenson, “Each day the kids were able to see some amazing history in London. Kudos to Kim Shuttlesworth and the Bowie Band staff for putting together such a well-organized trip. The weather—God shined upon us, because we had sunshine most of the time we were there.”

Marie Jenkerson did not make the trip, but said her son, junior David Banda, one of the band’s flautists, described the parade march as “fun but really short.”

The trip took more than a year of planning and fundraising. The band’s instruments were shipped in a huge container that arrived in London before the band.

Texas was well represented this year in London’s New Year’s Day Parade. Along with Bowie, participants included the University of Texas Longhorn Alumni Band and the Lake Highlands Wildcat Wranglers dance troupe.

Watching the bands practicing, Bob Bone, executive director of London’s New Year’s Day Parade said, “We had a touch of Texan sun—right in the heart of London in the depths of December! These groups will warm the cockles of London hearts on January first, too.”

The Bowie band, formally known as the James Bowie High School Outdoor Performing Ensemble, is under the direction of Shuttlesworth, with assistance from Ryan Thomas, Amy Suggs, and Matt Atkinson. Director of the Color Guard is Joey Powell. The Bowie drum majors are Jordan Dinkins, Kaden Wood and Sami Funderburgh.


Parade History

The first parade, in 1987, was called The Lord Mayor of Westminster’s Big Parade and featured 2,000 performers. The route originally started at Parliament Square, but was reversed in 2010 to provide television viewers with better views of London’s landmarks.

This year, fourteen London boroughs participated with entries to earn funds for charities with their interpretation of the theme ‘London on the Move.’ The parade has raised millions of pounds for London charities while injecting more than 100 million pounds into the local economy.




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