SM East band earns prestigious invitation to perform in New Year’s parade in Rome

Executive directors of the London and Rome New Year’s parades traveled to Kansas City Wednesday to present an official invitation to the SM East marching band. Submitted photo.

When the eyes of the world turn to the famous New Year’s Day parade through the ancient city in four months, the Shawnee Mission East Lancer Marching Band will be part of the spectacle.

Student drum majors Natalie Nitsch (left) and Shelby Winter show off their invitation medallions.

Executive directors of the London and Rome New Year’s Parades were in town Wednesday to present the SM East band with a formal invitation to participate in this year’s festivities in Rome.

Band director Alex Toepfer said he expects approximately 120 students, chaperones and guests to make the trip, which will take the group from Prairie Village to Italy from Dec. 28 through Jan. 3.

In addition to performing in the New Year’s Day parade, which starts at the Piazza del Popolo and proceeds down via del Corso and past the Spanish Steps, the marching band will also perform at the Franscati street festival, near the pope’s summer residence.

Band leaders Emily Babcock and Alex Toepfer after the announcement.

Additionally, the school’s jazz band and concert band will perform concerts at San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in downtown Rome.

“We will also be visiting Vatican City, the Colosseum, the Forums, Pompeii, Assisi, Orvieto where we will explore the rich culture and history of Italy which is so vital to our understanding of Western music and culture,” said Toepfer.