MOORE — It's not every day the Queen of England invites your band to play in London on New Year's Day.
She wasn't at Southmoore High School on Wednesday, but her lieutenants were on hand and they received a Queen's welcome.
As director Adam Mewhorter, dozens of band members and school and city leaders looked on, a British chap by the name of Roger Bramble made it official, extending an invitation to play London in 2016.
“The kids have worked really hard,” Mewhorter said. “I'm glad they're going to get a reward.”
The annual parade features more than 10,000 performers representing the London boroughs and countries from across the globe, according to the city's online visitor guide.
Bramble, who goes by the title deputy lord lieutenant, spoke of the band's “unparalleled reputation” in his brief remarks. He encouraged members to keep playing their instruments “no matter how many other priorities emerge in life.”
“It's amazing for the whole program,” said senior drum major Madalynne Melot, 17. “It's really a morale booster for us after what happened on May 20,” she said, referencing the destructive tornado that struck Moore and south Oklahoma City that day.
The school's 200-member band did not try out or submit an application. They were recommended by Edmond Santa Fe director Mark Lowery, whose band is performing in London on New Year's Day.
“They are a quality band,” Lowery said. “I think they will represent Oklahoma remarkably well.”
Between now and then the band will have to raise money to make the trip. Mewhorter estimates it will cost $200,000 to take the group and their equipment for seven days.
Flutist Alexis Villanueva is a 15-year-old sophomore who lived in Europe for four years while her parents were stationed in the military. She is looking forward to making a return trip.
“I would like to actually meet the Queen,” she said. “I'm really excited.”