Reid Hall distinctly remembers clock tower that holds Big Ben looming in the background as she videotaped the Evans High School Marching Band in its third performance in the Lord Mayor of Westminster's New Year's Day Parade in London in 2002.
The Evans High School band traveled to Chicago in March to participate in a St. Patrick's Day Parade. The band members are gearing up to march in the London parade on New Year's Day.
"It's one of those things where when you have a minute to stop and look around you and you realize what you are doing, it's just a pretty incredible feeling,' said Hall, the school's band director since 2003.
She assisted her predecessor, Richard Brasco, for more than 15 years before taking over as director.
Now, the band is gearing up for a return visit. The Evans High band will make its fourth trek to the London parade on its 20th anniversary on New Year-s Day 2006 - a trip that will cost each student more than $2,000.
Band students have been working on fund-raisers to pay for the trip since November, Hall said, and will be working at two restaurants this week to earn more money.
Students will bus tables for tips and donations at Golden Corral on Bobby Jones Expressway from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, and at CiCi's Pizza in Columbia Square from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday.
"A lot of the local businesses have been great about helping us out, especially CiCi's," Hall said of the restaurant, which has allowed the students to bus tables for the past few months and will continue to do so through December. "It's pretty nice. So far we have been real fortunate.''
In the past 15 years, the Evans band has represented the school, community and state in national and international events, including Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade in March, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1993, Universal Studios in 1992, and three trips to the prestigious London parade in 1991, 1996 and 2002.
The parade, with an anticipated crowd of nearly a million lining the streets, will be broadcast live worldwide for four hours and will travel from Parliament Square to Piccadilly at Berkley streets.
Hall said her band keeps returning to the parade because it is such an honor to be invited. The 150 students and 40 adults going to London in 2006 will attend a theatrical production and tours of the area, possibly including Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath, Stratford and Warwick and Hampton Court.
"For one thing, it's by invitation, and plus the educational value for the kids is just incredible," Hall said. "The tours that they offer, the things the kids are able to see. For a lot of people, it is a once- in-a-lifetime type thing."
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