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Dulaney High School marching band to ‘light ‘em up’ at London New Year’s parade

The Dulaney High School marching band, shown here in 2011, when it first performed in London. The latest iteration of the band is performing there again in the city's New Year's Day parade.
The Dulaney High School marching band, shown here in 2011, when it first performed in London. The latest iteration of the band is performing there again in the city's New Year's Day parade. (Staff Photo by / Jen Rynda)

Whether you’re in the U.S. or one of the 600,000 spectators who line the streets of central London each year during the city’s New Year’s Day parade, you’ll have a chance next week to watch Dulaney High School’s marching band perform there for the third time.

The Lion’s Roar Marching Band was invited back by a London parade selection committee after its 2015 and 2011 performances, and will join 19 other U.S. high school marching bands and 8,000 other U.S. performers during “one of the most televised events around the world,” said Barry Chesky, who has been director of the Timonium High School band for the past 16 years.

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“It’s a great honor, and it speaks volumes for all the hard work put in by the students throughout the year,” Chesky said.

Forty of the band’s 72 members — and one member of its color guard — will be traveling to London on Thursday, Dec. 26 to perform a rendition of the 2013 single “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” by Fall Out Boy.

It’s a far cry from the local events the band typically performs, but the students aren’t new to large crowds, said junior Evie McKenney, a Lion’s Roar drum major. The band has performed in Disney World and in 2017 played at the New Orleans’ Sugar Bowl. The London parade, however, is the only overseas performance for the band.

With extended rehearsals, “the band has had to put in more work individually” on their own time, too, to prep for the 2-mile march through central London, McKenney said.

“There’s been a lot of attention to detail, making sure everybody is prepared and feeling confident,” she said.

The Lion’s Roar was initially selected to perform from a pool of U.S. nominees. Chesky is still unsure who exactly nominated the band more than nine years ago, but said the band is scored on its performance during the parade, and invited back based on recommendations to parade organizers by those music professionals.

“It’s wonderful because in Europe, they may have marching bands,” but they are not as well established in European high schools, Chesky said. “You’ll see spectators packed along the parade routes, some even climbing on lampposts and taking photos and videos of the participating bands,” Chesky said. “It’s kind of unique for them.”

The weeklong trek across the Atlantic costs $3,200 per student, but band members raised money through fundraisers throughout the year, McKenney said.

McKenney, who has never traveled on a plane let alone flown out of the country, said she’s excited “but also pretty nervous because of all the viewers.”

“I just like seeing everybody perform and come together,” she said. “It’s really exciting for me as a drum major to see what all of our hard work has gone towards.”

The parade can be streamed online through Maryland Public Television on New Year’s Day, Wednesday, Jan. 1, from approximately 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Eastern time, or live on the parade’s website starting at 7 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, Dec. 31.

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