SM West band sets record with latest invitation to play in London New Year’s Day parade

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Dignitaries from London were in Overland Park last week to extend an invitation to the SM West marching band to perform in the city’s New Year’s Day parade — and mark a major milestone in the process.

With 10 invitations to the parade over the years, no other band outside of the United Kingdom has been asked to perform in the event as many times as the SM West group.

The school’s longstanding positive relationship with the parade organizers has become one of the draws to the band program in the SM West area, said SM West band director Bill Thomas. From a young age, band students dream of getting to take the trip to London to perform on the massive stage the parade presents.

“They’ve looked forward to this since beginning band back in fifth grade,” Thomas said of the student performers. “They grow up thinking about this, dreaming about this. It’s a big deal.”

Organizers estimate that around a half a million people will watch the parade live in London with hundreds of millions across the globe watching parts of it on television.

In addition to the officials from the UK who attended the invitation ceremony, several local officials participated as well. Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach, Sen. Dinah Sykes and SM West area Board of Education member Laura Guy were all on hand as well.

The last time SM West made the trip was three years ago. The group spends a good deal of time and effort raising money for the trips. Just this month, the band celebrated raising more than $14,500 for the trip through a car wash.

About the author

Jay Senter
Jay Senter

Jay Senter is the founder and publisher of the Post.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in business at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he worked as a reporter and editor at The Badger Herald.

He went on to receive a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas, where he earned the Calder Pickett Award. While he was in graduate school, he also worked as a reporter for the Lawrence Journal-World.