Hampton University’s Marching Force Marching Band in Rome, Italy’s New Year’s Day Parade on Jan. 1, 2020. It will be the first appearance for a historically black marching band in the international celebration, which follows the Pope’s annual new year’s blessing in St. Peter’s Square.
“’The Marching Force’ is an elite group of talented, young musicians who are also academically accomplished. This opportunity shows that our band is being recognized internationally. They continue to uphold the Standard of Excellence as being one of the best marching bands in the nation,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
University officials say the band will spend the next year raising money to finance travel, new instruments and uniforms, and learning opportunities for members of the band during the trip.
“This wonderful opportunity will put Hampton University on an international spotlight and bring some attention to what we’re doing with the band at Hampton. Over the last year, we have been focusing on recruiting talented musicians, dancers, color guard and majorettes. Our mission is not just to build better band students, but to shape and mold students so that they are academically proficient and have high moral character,” said Dr. Thomas Jones, band director. “This trip validates what we’re doing. The strength of the program is growing. Traveling is a great incentive for new and current students and we are really looking forward to this exciting journey.”
The invitation follows several high profile HBCU band appearances and invitations, including the Florida A&M University Marching 100’s appearance in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Los Angeles, and last fall’s invitation of the Morgan State University’s Magnificent Marching Machine to participate in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.