Gwinnett County

Three metro area bands invited to travel to London for the city’s annual New Year’s Day parade

BUFORD, Ga. — The Buford High School Marching Band had an audition of sorts Tuesday, as did the school’s Chamber Chorus.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that Drum Major Audrey Zachman still can’t believe.

“What? We’re actually doing this? Is this real?” Audrey said.

Bob Bone was part of a group of British dignitaries who came on campus.

“It is one of the biggest events on the planet. It’s twice as big as Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York for example,” Bone said.


The delegation included the great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, Duncan Sandys. He formally invited the Buford band to England.

“It’s the greatest event in the greatest city in the world,” Sandys said.

It’s London’s New Year’s Day Parade and Festival. Organizers say it draws 750,000 spectators and a worldwide television audience of 350 million. They say only the best high school marching bands from all over the globe are invited to participate.

Buford High’s invitation is for Jan. 1, 2024.  Until that day, Zachman is the ceremonial keeper of the official British umbrella. As long as it never leaves her side, it won’t rain on the parade.

“Buford Georgia’s band hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to do things like this. We’re so thrilled we’ve been given this one now,” Band Director Erik Mason said.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

The Grayson High School Marching Band in Loganville and the Lambert High School Band in Forsyth County have also been invited to march in London. Now there’s just the matter of raising the money to fund the trip. For Buford High School and its 250 band and chorus members, Mason says that’ll be around $1 million.