From: Public Affairs
The Marching Royal Dukes of James Madison University performed in the 25th annual London New Year's Day Parade on the band's Dec. 27-Jan. 4 European tour.
More than 250 of the marching band's 447 members are making the trip, the fifth tour abroad for the large collegiate band formed in 1972. The Marching Royal Dukes performed in Germany, France, Italy and Monaco in 1997, in Athens in 2000 and Dublin in 2003 and 2006.
"The tour is a great enrichment opportunity for our students," said Scott Rikkers, director of the Marching Royal Dukes and assistant director of bands at JMU. "They are able to travel with their peers and friends in an extension of their college experience. Plus, performing in the parade is good exposure for the band. It may be the first time Londoners have heard of JMU."
The Marching Royal Dukes joined about 24 other bands in the silver anniversary parade, which was expected to draw more than 8,000 performers from throughout the world. The event, recognized as the second biggest single-day event in London's calendar – close behind the London Marathon – attracts more than 500,000 spectators, according to parade organizers.
About 120 parents and family of band members and Marching Royal Dukes alumni are traveling with the JMU group, as are 13 band staff members. While in Europe, the travelers are touring London, Windsor and the English countryside.
In 1994, the John Philip Sousa Foundation named the Marching Royal Dukes recipients of the Sudler Trophy, known as the Heisman Trophy of college marching bands. The band performed in the inaugural parades of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, in 1997 and 2001, respectively, as well as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2001 and 2008.