The Loop

From UF News “UF’s Gator Marching Band makes history in London”


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Gator Marching Band made history in one of London’s most iconic locations on Wednesday. Rehearsing for its performance for the women’s cycling competition, the UF Gator Band was the first non-British marching band to perform on The Mall — just outside of Buckingham Palace.

“We are completely blown away by the magnitude of this performance stage,” said Associate Band Director Jay Watkins. “Not only is this a first for the Gator Band – it’s a first for the United States.”

They played an assortment of Rolling Stones, Beatles and Queen arrangements to a crowd of a couple hundred that gathered to hear the rehearsal.

Shortly after their rehearsal, Prime Minister David Cameron stopped by to congratulate the band as he was walking from his residence to Buckingham Palace to meet with Queen Elizabeth.

The Gator Band will spend all of Thursday sightseeing around London. Stops include Stonehenge, Bath, Warner Bros. studios (Harry Potter set) and Oxford University. They will conclude the day attending a performance of the musicals “The Lion King” or “Wicked.”

“This is not just a business trip,” Watkins said. “As we planned their itinerary, we wanted to make sure they had a chance to be tourists.”

Friday morning will also mark a historic performance for the Gator Band as members take the field in full uniform at the U.S. ambassador’s residence to play for a number of Olympic VIPs, including First Lady Michelle Obama, Dara Torres, David Beckham, Shawn Johnson and the U.S. Track and Field team.

“I think everyone is looking forward to our performance at the ambassador’s residence,” Watkins said. “We are getting a chance to play for some of the most influential people in the world and support our Gator athletes on Team USA.”

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