NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A local high school band has been invited to play in a New Year’s Day parade in Rome.
The organizer of the parade flew in from the UK to invite them personally, but a malfunction with the plane prevented him from getting here.
“Well, I suppose it’s just one of those things, at least that’s how I look at it now a few hours after. I suppose it was a bit frightening really,” says Bob Bone, founder of the organization, Rome New Year.
Bone organizes large-scale parades in European capitals patterned after big parades in the U.S They were on their way from Atlanta to invite the marching band at Heritage High school to play in Rome on New Year’s Day 2025, but 15 minutes into the flight …
“There’s a big ‘pop!’ all of a sudden, and that’s an alarming sound to hear on an airplane whenever you’re on a plane,” Bone said. “And a lot of whooshing air going around and then my ears started to pop and I thought, ‘Ah, I think this plane is decompressing.”
They were able to land, and found out the plane door hadn’t locked properly. They didn’t get to Heritage, but sent a video officially inviting the band to Rome.
“They were very excited, they were screaming, they were jumping,” said Heritage High School band director Jemere Brown. “A lot of them were saying I’ve never even left the Hampton Roads area in my life, you know.”
Now, despite a few roadblocks, musical plans are underway.
“I think we’re going to spice it up for this event and try to bring out some new material,” Brown said.
Bone said they were drawn to Heritage for a few reasons: the band’s musical choices and their inspiring band director.
“With Heritage, you’ve got a guy there who obviously enjoys what he’s doing,” Bone said, “and therefore, the kids enjoy doing it for him. That just shines out in all the video you see.”