PITTSBURG -- Who could possibly say no to Her Majesty?
Not, the Pittsburg High School Marching Show Band, which on Wednesday received and enthusiastically accepted an official invitation to appear in the 2014 London New Year's Day Parade.
"Wow! Your marching band, ladies and gentlemen, is simply awesome," said parade director Bob Bone after the 155-member band gave a rousing performance for their classmates, parents, school officials and local dignitaries who packed the Creative Arts Building on the school campus.
The London New Year's Day Parade, which was launched in 1985, is a huge event and even bigger than the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, he said. More than 650,000 spectators are expected to line the London parade route, which will have more than 8,000 performers. The event has a worldwide viewing audience of 280 million people.
"It's a pretty big deal," said Bone, who described the event as "the greatest parade in the greatest city in the world."
Roger Bramble, deputy lieutenant of London, then extended the official invitation on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of the band's outstanding performance ability.
He said he was impressed by the city's community spirit. "It is stunning and truly admirable," Bramble said.
"It's exciting and a huge honor to be part of such a successful group of students," said band director Jennifer Martinez of the invitation.
"It is special," Pittsburg High student Isabella Donato said. "It's not something I was expecting. It's really major."
The invitation to appear in the London parade resulted from the band being nominated by a group of U.S. high school and college band directors.
"We heard reports from many people on how good they are," Bone said.
But until Wednesday's event, he had only seen the band perform on clips played on YouTube.
Margarita Baja is a parent with a daughter in the band who attended the invitation ceremony.
"It's very exciting," she said. "It's quite an honor."
The next step is to work on fundraising efforts to help band members make the weeklong trip to London.
Pat Mims is the special projects accountant for the school district and is acting as the treasurer for the band.
"It is very expensive (to go). We are doing a lot of fundraising," said Mims, adding that it will cost about $3,400 to pay for travel expenses for each student who participates in the parade. So far, she said, about 100 of the 155 band members have signed up for the trip.
In 2009, 167 band members performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. That trip cost $221,000, of which more than half was raised through community fundraisers, with family members picking up the rest.
Pittsburg High School isn't the only high school in the Bay Area to be invited across the pond.
On Tuesday, Oak Grove High School in San Jose received its formal invitation to participate in the parade for the fifth time, said Principal Martha Brazil.
"It's definitely an honor for us," she said.
A total of 16 schools in the United States will be invited to provide a musical or dance performance in the London New Year's Day Parade in 2014.
Reach Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.