LONDONDERRY — When Londonderry High drum major Michelle Mayer was called to the center podium during last Friday's halftime show she wasn't sure what to expect.
"I had no idea what was going on," Michelle, a junior, said.
The football game's announcer Kevin Smith said there was an urgent call from California and put Music Director Andy Soucy's cell phone up to the microphone.
Then the voice of Jeffrey Throop, president of the Rose Bowl Parade, came over the loud speaker to announce that the Lancers will be one of 15 high school marching bands chosen to participate in the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year's Day, 2011. They will represent New England and New York.
"I've wanted to do this since I was a freshman," an excited Michelle said Monday by phone.
"It's going to be a lot of work to get ready for this, but it's incredible. I can't wait."
Michelle and her fellow drum majors — Lauren Bolles and Brandon Cardwell — and the color guard captains were presented with bouquets of red roses during the announcement. This was a nice touch orchestrated by Soucy who hid five dozen roses under trash can liners.
"I wanted to create some drama, and I think we did," Soucy said.
Soucy and Assistant Music Director Serge Beaulieu kept the secret under wraps until the Friday night football game against West High School. They let Smith in on the plan and Soucy gave him a script to read before the phone call.
"It was like a 'Disney moment,'" Soucy said.
"The only thing missing was a John Williams sound tract."
This will be the Marching Lancers fourth appearance in the prestigious parade. The group, now at 320 members, performed in 1992, 1997 and 2004.
Soucy is curious as to who will be the grand marshal of the 2011 parade.
"We've had Crisobal Colon, a descendent of Christopher Columbus (1992), Carl Lewis and Shannon Miller, Olympic gold medalists (1997) and John Williams," he said.
"This parade is such a classy tradition — there's nothing like it."
Pollyann Winslow, the parent of a junior in the band, hopes to be able to participate as a chaperone for the trip.
"It's so wonderful to actually be there," she said.
"You can't smell the roses on TV."
Soucy said he sent an application in June to be considered for the parade.
"We sent a DVD, audiotape, photographs and newspaper and magazine articles," he said.
"We have quite a resume now."
In just the past year and a half, the band has played in China as a prelude to the Beijing Olympics, and in President Barack Obama's inauguration parade. But the Rose Bowl continues to be the band's biggest stage in terms of overall exposure, Soucy said. The parade will be broadcast in 215 countries, including all of China's provinces. It will also be carried on network television in the United States.
Taking place on New Year's Day hours before the Rose Bowl game itself, the parade stretches 5.5 miles, and lasts about 2 1/2 hours, Soucy said. To prepare for the event, the band will participate in a 10K walkathon and have a couple of practices where they march 5 miles around the school track.
While in California, the band will also perform at Disneyworld and in the parade-sponsored Bandfest.
Drum major Lauren Bolles is a senior this year, so she won't be marching in the Rose Bowl parade.
"I'll watch them on TV," she said.
"I'm not too sad. I've had my share of glory over my high school years."