Shared from the 11/12/2016 American Press eEdition

London calling Cowboys band

Pride of McNeese invited to perform overseas


Rick Hickman / American Press

Former Lord Mayor of Westminster Catherine Longworth congratulates the Pride of McNeese Marching Band on being selected to perform in London.

Former Lord Mayor of Westminster Catherine Longworth visited McNeese State University on Friday to issue the Pride of McNeese Marching Band a formal invitation to perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade and Festival next year.

Longworth came on an official visit representing Queen Elizabeth II and wore traditional Lord Mayor attire.

She was accompanied by parade director Robert Bone, who stressed to band members the significance of the offer. Bone said the invitation must be hand-delivered by a parade patron to be valid. He also emphasized the size of the parade, which has over twice as many participants as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, over half a million in attendance and over 300 million TV viewers.

Bone said bands are an important part of the parade. Since the United Kingdom doesn’t have American football, it doesn’t have school bands. He said the parade staff selects 16 U.S. bands to play each year by word-of-mouth reputation.

“We don’t have anything, anything like your marching bands,” Bone said, adding that the “audience of the streets really go for it.”

Bone encouraged the band to accept the invitation. “I can tell you that it will be a performance experience of a lifetime,” he said. He then introduced Longworth, who was given a standing ovation. Longworth complimented the drum line’s opening performance.

“Today was without exception one of the best of the drum lines I’ve seen,” she said.

She explained that, since Lord Mayors are not elected officials, they serve mostly as ambassadors who continue in service even after their time in office. She spoke about Westminster and all the exciting things students would be able to see.

When the time finally came to offer the invitation, she entreated band conductor Jay Jacobs to accept. Jacobs enthusiastically quipped, “We accept,” evoking a roar of laughter and applause.

Since every official visit requires the exchange of gifts, Longworth gave the university a plate from Buckingham Palace that contained the royal crest and a record of every royal family since 1066. She also gave cuff links to Jacobs and Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach.

Roach in turn gave Longworth and Bone certificates of honorary citizenship to Lake Charles, as well as a key to the city.


Jacobs said band students will pay most expenses individually. The trip will last eight days and will cost about $3,350. He said the goal is to raise at least $160,000, which would reduce each student’s expenses by $1,000.

Individuals, groups or businesses can donate to the band travel fund through the McNeese Foundation. Donations can be made online at or by calling 475-5588.

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