LONDONDERRY — The members of the Marching Lancers just received another major feather in their shakos. The band has been invited to represent New Hampshire in the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 2009.

"This is going to be one of the most exciting inaugural events ever," said Andy Soucy, music director for the Londonderry School District.

"There were over 1,500 applications received nationwide. It's such an honor for us to be chosen."

Soucy said the band will be performing for 4 million to 5 million people who come to Washington for the nation's 44th president, Barack Obama. The group found out about being chosen for the inaugural parade on Saturday as it was preparing to play in the Manchester Holiday Parade.

Senior Mariah O'Rourke said she is amazed at all the band has accomplished over her high school years. Mariah, 17, is one of the Marching Lancers three drum majors who will lead the band down Pennsylvania Avenue.

"First China, now this," she said.

The band was invited to perform at the pre-Olympic festivities in Beijing held in June.

"It's two different experiences," Mariah said. "We were representing the country in China. We're representing the state in Washington. It's so patriotic."

Soucy said the band applied to be in the parade in September as soon as the application was available from the Joint Armed Forces Inaugural Committee. In November, he talked with the band students' parents about the possibility of marching in the parade, which would cost an estimated $500 per person for the trip.

Out of 300 band members, 280 students, plus chaperones, are planning to leave on Sunday, Jan. 18 for Washington.

"Music selections have not been finalized," Soucy said.

The band had to submit an online application with a narrative summary of the band, resume and a performance video.

"The video was a compilation of different parades from the St. Patrick's New York Parade, Old Home Day and others," Soucy said.

Soucy said that each state is represented in the parade. Some have marching bands and others are represented by drum and bugle corps, mounted horse units, military color guards and other marching units.

The Marching Lancers has quite an impressive resume with performances in China at the 2008 Pre-Olympic Beijing Cultural Youth Festival, performances in three Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parades, an Orange Bowl Parade, as well as annual appearances in the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade.

"It's so cool to be picked from entries all over the country," said Brandon Cardwell, a Londonderry High junior who plays piccolo in the band.

"It's pretty close to the experience of going to China," Brandon, 16, said.

"That was my first time out of the country, but this is even bigger."

Soucy said the band applied to two previous inaugural parades but weren't chosen. He recalled Salem High marching at President Ronald Reagan's first inauguration and the Spartans of Nashua being chosen five times.

"Concord High was at one of Clinton's inaugurations," Soucy recalled.

He said that Dupont High School of Delaware was also chosen this year and that he was looking forward to seeing them.

"We were at the Rose Bowl together in 1992 and 2004," he said.

Soucy said the band will return on Jan. 21 after a celebratory dinner the night of the inauguration.

"This will be the history lesson of our lives," he said.

Anyone interested in contributing to the Marching Lancers Inaugural Travel Fund may contact Soucy at 603-432-6941, ext. 2317, or go to www.lancermusic.org.

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