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Fort Myers High School band ready to ring in the New Year in London again, this time for 2023

A London Metropolitan Police officer helps provide security for the 2007 New Year's Day Parade as the Fort Myers High School Greenwave marching band performed in London. The band will be reprising that performance, as well as one they did in 2017, at the 2023 New Year's Day Parade in London.
News-Press file photo, Todd Stubing
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Special to WGCU
A London Metropolitan Police officer helps provide security for the 2007 New Year's Day Parade as the Fort Myers High School Greenwave marching band performed in London. The band will be reprising that performance, as well as one they did in 2017, at the 2023 New Year's Day Parade in London.
https://www.news-press.com/picture-gallery/news/education/2016/09/21/memories-fort-myers-high-marching-band-in-london-2007/90813042/

The Fort Myers High School Band will herald the new year with music, but the local bandmembers will be celebrating, again, far from home.

Members of The Greenwave Marching Band, colorguard, and dance team will perform in the 2023 London New Years Day Parade on Sunday, Jan. 1, at noon, London time, which translates into 7 a.m. Fort Myers time.

The parade will be streamed live from 7 to 10:30 a.m. Jan. 1 on WGCU HD. Viewers can catch the WGCU TV stream live on wgcu.org or on the WGCU app, available via an app store.

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London New Year's Eve Parade
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Special to WGCU
Fort Myers Greenwave Band, dance team and colorguard at the 2017 London New Year's Eve Parade

Parade organizers said the 2023 event will be "back in its original format, bigger and better than ever before" when it takes over Piccadilly and traverses Regents Street St James’s, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall.

Parade organizers said there are more than 10,000 performers taking part in the parade, with many different countries represented.

The event attracts around 1 million spectators live, usually covers a 2-mile parade route right through the heart of London and lasts for several hours.

This will be the Greenwave's third appearance at the event. Previously, the band "invaded" London on New Year's Day 2007 and 2017.

The Greenwave band won't be the only South Florida group going. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Eagle Regiment from Parkland, Florida, will also participate.

For some of the 85 members of the Greenwave band, dance team and colorguard as well as more than two dozen parents and siblings who are going, the trip will include some firsts.

John Shannon, one of those parents and treasurer of the band boosters, said his son, John, who plays the sousaphone in the band, has been out of the country before, and his daughter, who graduated in 2021, was born overseas.

"So from that standpoint, not new to this, but there are a lot of kids who've never been on an airplane before," he said. "To be honest with you, everybody's excited," he said.

Fundraising for the trip was critical for its success, he said, but could not cover everyone.

"Unfortunately we could not take everybody — the funding requirements were pretty intense," Shannon explained.

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London New Year's Eve Parade
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Special to WGCU
Fort Myers Greenwave Band, dance team and colorguard at the 2017 London New Year's Eve Parade

That funding meant raising close to $3,300 per band member.

That 2007 trip cost more than $273,000; this time, inflation and all, the trip will be $400,000.

"When you look at what you got airfare, hotels? Two meals a day," Shannon said.

He said there were opportunities to raise money for the trip as well.

"We provided the kids a lot of fundraising opportunities and there are a couple of two- and three-person families that earned their whole way over by doing fundraising opportunities," Shannon said.

Some of those other "new" things include something as simple as a door lock.

"My wife had to find out what kind of inside locks the hotel uses to make sure the kids know how to lock," he said. His wife is the president of the vocal arts boosters and ran across a similar issue recently.

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London New Year's Eve Parade
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Special to WGCU
Fort Myers Greenwave Band, dance team and colorguard at the 2017 London New Year's Eve Parade.

"She just took a bunch of kids to Orlando and it turned out, for many of them, they'd never been in a hotel before and never knew how to lock the door," Shannon said.

And, just as in previous visits, the band will be in-country for a week and see some of the sights of London.

"Eight days they fly over. We're going over early as a family ... they go over the 27th and come back on the 3rd," he said. "This is a tremendous experience for the kids. It's a once in a lifetime, you know, at least their lifetime so far, experience, and you know, frankly, we're generally excited."

The Shannons and many of the others who are going, such as Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson and his wife, will watch the Greenwave's parade performance from grandstand bleachers near the end of the parade route. A few other parents will march with the band as "a little adult supervision," Shannon said.

The band's visit in 2007 came with a spot of controversy when safety and terrorism concerns by then School Superintendent James Browder threatened to derail the trip.

Cooler parental heads prevailed after school board officials overruled Browder and left the trip up to parents. They parental vote was 101 to 3 for the band to go.

A story in The Fort Myers News-Press in June 2006 quoted one young bandmember's thoughts about that safety issue.

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London New Year's Day Parade route

"I'm not worried about that at all," said flutist Emily Stone, who was going to be a freshman. "I know we'll be safe, so I really don't worry about that kind of stuff."

The then incoming bandmember also had an ulterior motive to be eager for the trip: "Double-decker buses," she said. "I've never seen one, except in movies. I want to ride on top."

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