As the Evans High School Band made a left turn at Trafalgar Square, director Richard Brasco looked up at the moment the shutter clicked.
The Evans High School Band was 16th in the lineup at the New Year's Day Parade in London.
Brasco and 227 students and parents from Evans High School traveled to London to march in the London Parade on New Year's Day. Now that 8-by-10 inch photo is a lasting memento of one of the best moments of his life.
"It was a real high for all the kids and me, too," Brasco said. "I've been to the parade three times and this was by far the best time. Everything went off without a hitch."
The Evans band, chaperones and support personnel arrived safely in London on Dec. 27 after a seven-hour flight. The group took a bus tour of London's West End, after which they visited the Tower of London.
On Dec. 28, the group toured Hampton Court, the largest palace in England; it has more than 500 rooms. At the palace, the court jesters performed various antics, involving one student, Christian Kata, in a skit.
At the Gala festival Dec. 29, the Evans Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble performed for an audience exceeding 2,000 people.
"It was absolutely the most wonderful thing," said school board member Mildred Blackburn, who toured with the band. "The wind ensemble was the first band to perform, and they played Excalibur (a song the band had specially commissioned). They received a standing ovation from the crowd. The announcer said he had never seen a standing ovation for the first band that played. There were 2,000 people there all on their feet clapping, and it was just thrilling."
On Dec. 30, the band members and adults traveled to Stonehenge and Bath, north of London. They capped the evening off with a "Jack the Ripper" walking tour.
On New Year's Eve the group had a free day. That night they had a party at the hotel.
"We didn't let the kids stay up late," Brasco said. "They brought in the new year, stayed for two more songs, then we gave them their instructions and put them to bed," Brasco said. "New Year's Day was a work day for them."
The Knights band was the 16th unit in the parade, and the third band. With the sun shining and temperatures in the low 40s, the band lined up in front of Big Ben for the noon start. The students all agreed there was only one way to start the event.
"The kids wanted to play the National Anthem before they stepped off, so we brought the United States flag up to the front and played the National Anthem before we moved out," Brasco said. "It was kind of neat."
During a lull in the parade, the band broke ranks and mingled with the crowd, which was estimated at 1.3 million.
"The British were very receptive to us," Brasco said. "Most had a United States flag in one hand and a Union Jack in the other. They were very appreciative that we made the trip."
That night the group ended the trip by going to see Les Miserables. They left for home at 6:30 the next morning.
"The worst part of the trip was making the decision to get on bus in Atlanta and head home in the snow," Brasco said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.