Barrington High School had a visitor March 19 from across the Atlantic.
Former Lord Mayor, Councillor Duncan Sandys made the trip from England to formally invite the BHS marching band to perform in the London New Year's Day Parade and Festival for 2014. This will be London's 28th annual festival and attendance is expected to reach 500,000 with millions more watching around the world.
Clad in full dress uniform and flanked by Union Jack flags and balloons, Sandys, who is also the great-grandson of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, presented the invitation to band leader Randy Karon, Principal Steve McWilliams, Fine Arts Department Chair Grant Sahr and the parent leaders of the band's booster group.
"They like to meet everyone ahead of time," Karon said. "It is really nice because when they get done with the presentation, we just had some informal time where our people could come up and shake their hands. It's really humanizing."
He added that the visit was a big deal for students, who will be traveling far away from home.
In order to be chosen to participate, the band had to be recommended by other band directors who have done the tour before. Karon said he has an idea of who might have done that for BHS but it isn't sure.
Their trip will include much more than just their performance in one of the biggest New Year's Day parades in the world. The group will be taken on a number of tours in London and some of the surrounding areas, exploring the history and culture of one of Europe's oldest cities.
In order to go, each of the estimated 95 students going will have to pay almost $3,000 each. Meeting that goal will mean extra fundraising this year through the BHS Band Spirit Club. They have already done a number of food sales and, as something new, hosted a pub trivia night. Barrington residents should expect to see more events as the year goes on.