Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet visits Londonderry

Band Director Mr. Soucy and the Marching Lancers welcome President Tibbet and his wife to Londonderry as they prepare for the Tournament of Roses parade in 2018.

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Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet visits Londonderry

Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet and his wife Amelia visit the Marching Lancers.  The president will visit every band who will be marching in the 2018 parade.

Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet and his wife Amelia visit the Marching Lancers. The president will visit every band who will be marching in the 2018 parade.

Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet and his wife Amelia visit the Marching Lancers. The president will visit every band who will be marching in the 2018 parade.

Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet and his wife Amelia visit the Marching Lancers. The president will visit every band who will be marching in the 2018 parade.

Josh Galluzzo, Features Editor

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The Lancer Marching Band, which already possesses a prestigious resume unparalleled by almost any other high school band nationally, has once again been honored with perhaps the highest invitation of excellence in the high school music world: participation in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.

The Londonderry band will perform in the 2018 Rose Bowl Parade as the only high school representative of the eastern seaboard. 

The parade viewership totals nearly sixty million worldwide watchers, as well as almost one million present onlookers.

To spread the word and get some insight into the community of such a band, Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet and his wife Amelia delighted the band and the town with a near week-long visit.

It’s tradition for the year’s elected President to visit each of the sixteen bands, and band director Mr. Soucy enthusiastically awaited LHS’s turn.

“We asked for him to come as soon as possible,” Soucy said. “We wanted to show him a good time, and we also wanted our community to know that this is a big deal.”

Londonderry was Tibbet’s second visit as part of his one-hundred fifty day global trek to visit all of the invited bands. These visits dot across the U.S., as well as Japan, Canada, Panama, and Australia, the four international band participants in the parade.

Tibbet’s stay from Saturday, March 25, through Thursday, March 30, included being a guest of honor in the Manchester St. Patrick’s Day parade, two radio station appearances and numerous interviews. His mission for these visits is to prepare not only the bands, but their communities as well.

“We wanted to celebrate what an excellent marching band it is, and what an accomplishment it is to be invited,” Tibbet elaborated. “We also wanted to talk to the community about costliness and encourage fundraising.”

Community is central to this year’s Tournament of the Roses in a large way as the theme chosen by President Tibbet for the Tournament this year is “Making a Difference” on a community level. The size of the community, Tibbet said, is up for the individual to determine.

His inspiration, he said, originates from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life and the character George Bailey in particular. As President Tibbet put it, Bailey “gives and gives and gives and constantly does favors for everyone,” and eventually ends up the richest man in town because he’s created such a community and so many friendships through his service.

“Every community has one or a few George Baileys willing to step forward when others step back,” Tibbet said.

Tibbet believes the Lancer Marching Band is an exemplary candidate based on these qualities.

“Aside from the excellence of band, we see the willingness to give back and the inclusiveness they display,” Tibbet said.

Bands must qualify not only on skill and organization alone, but also on their principles and service.

Tibbet described the meticulous application process to be in the parade as including lengthy paperwork, video submissions including sharp, organized turns, and the ability to provide fundraising opportunities.      

“We know the band supports the veterans’ memorial, various events, and just giving of their time,” Tibbet said. “These are not things they have to do.” 

Soucy heartily agreed, proud of his band for forming a community not only within the band, but within the Londonderry community as a whole.

“Everybody is friends,” Soucy said.  “Most do a sport, most do the honor roll. Everyone has a home here and a place to feel comfortable.”

It’s these stories, these microcosmic communities, that President Tibbet wants to highlight in the Tournament of the Roses Parade.

“Everybody has a story they want to and ought to share,” said Tibbet. “We want to take the good stories from Londonderry, from the band and community, and share them. The world needs to hear more good things.  There’s too much negativity, and too much good in the world to be neglected.”

The amalgamation of these stories is what gives the Roses Parade its unique charm, in Soucy’s opinion.

“Even when we’ve played in parades like Disney World, it’s not the same. It never has the same touch,” Soucy said. “There’s no other place in the world like it. The floats are fragrant. The street’s so pretty. They have the most beautiful horses from the equestrian units. The college bands are there. It’s very exciting.”

This year’s band is the fifth group of Marching Lancers to be offered this experience, as previous groups attended the parade in 1992, 1997, 2004, and 2011. Soucy said that for some it’s a family activity and a matter of legacy. One marching student sophomore Catherine Soucy will actually be upholding the legacy of her father David, who also marched in ’97.

Another marching student, junior Sophia Scaccia, talked about how she is eagerly awaiting the chance to make history with the band once again.

“Pasadena is the biggest opportunity for our band to show off how far we have come over the past few years,” Scaccia said. “I am also excited to be able to march in the biggest parade in the world especially on the first day of the year I will be graduating high school.”

President Tibbet advises the band to stay hydrated, rest well, take care of themselves and enjoy the moment.

Scaccia, it appears, has already taken the advice to heart.

“All of my closest friends will be right next to me experiencing this once in a lifetime moment.”

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