By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
MOORE — Cayla Munroe and Hannah Robinson are clarinet players and best friends attending Southmoore High School. The teens were also a bit starstruck Wednesday after meeting British celebrities visiting their high school.
“I’ve never actually met a real British person before,” Munroe said.
Munroe, Robinson and about 200 of their fellow band members met and spoke with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s representative, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Greater London the Honorable Roger Bramble, and his accompanying associates — the Executive Director of the London Parade Bob Bone, and Senior Director of International Participation Jonathan Whaley.
The gentlemen formally delivered an invitation for the Southmoore band to play in London’s 30th anniversary parade on New Year’s Day 2016.
The Southmoore band was selected for the honor nearly a year ago, Bone said, but then the tornado hit May 20, creating devastation and narrowly missing Southmoore High School.
“We were going to invite them for 2015, and then you had the tornado,” Bone said.
Bands are selected through local recommendations by contacts the parade officials have in the states. After the bands are fully vetted, they are notified and officially invited.
About 16 bands from North America perform in the London parade each year along with groups from 20 other countries, as well as multiple groups from London.
Parade officials typically invite 18 bands from North America because fundraising can be challenging and one or two bands usually drop out along the way.
Because of the added challenge of the tornado, parade officials decided to give Southmoore an extra year of preparation — and four scholarships for students with financial needs who might not otherwise be able to go.
The scholarships and the advance notification are unusual. The scholarships have rarely been given during the nearly 30-year history of the parade, Bramble said.
The parade delegates have been on a whirlwind tour of the U.S., flying from city to city inviting bands to march in the 2015 parade.
Only Southmoore was invited for the 2016 parade, making them the first — and only — 2016 invitee at this point, Bone said.
It’s also an auspicious year in that it will be the 30th anniversary of the event .
“We think that London New Year’s Day Parade is the greatest event in the greatest city in the world,” Bone told assembled students at the official presentation of the invitation.
Southmoore band director Adam Mewhorter said he was proud to accept the invitation from Bramble on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen of England. Mewhorter anticipates taking around 250 students to participate in the event.