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January 20. 2013 8:38PM

Londonderry High School Lancers embark on another historic trip to D.C.


Parents and friends carry flags and handmade signs as they cheer on the passing coach buses carrying the Londonderry High School Lancers Marching Band and Color Guard early Saturday morning. (APRIL GUILMET PHOTO)

LONDONDERRY - It was a chilly winter morning, but dozens of locals still scrambled out of bed well before dawn on Saturday to gather alongside Mammoth Road in front of Mack's Apples in search of the perfect spot to wave their American flags for the passing Coach buses.

There were six buses in all, each one carrying 50 or so Londonderry High School students and their chaperones as they embarked on the trip of a lifetime.

The Marching Lancers and Color Guard will perform in Monday's Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. The band also marched in the parade in 2009.

The inaugural invitation follows performances by the Lancers in China last summer at the 2008 pre-Olympic Beijing Cultural Youth Festival, performances in three Pasadena Tournament of Roses parades, an Orange Bowl Parade and annual appearances in the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade.

This week's journey began around 6 a.m. Saturday morning, when the oversized Coach buses lined up alongside the school gymnasium and cars lined up all the way to Town Hall waiting to drop off students.

Suitcases were promptly stashed down below, while larger items like tubas and snare drums were loaded onto a large U-Haul truck. Teens hugged parents goodbye and boarded the buses, which were decorated inside with red, white and blue streamers and metallic stars.

About a quarter of a mile away, cars began flooding the parking lot at the Mack's Apples farm store, and residents began scoping out the perfect viewing spot for an impromptu parade. Across the street, members of the Londonderry Fire Department readied their ladder truck, with local band supporter Pollyann Winslow eagerly watching from below.

Firefighters Jonathan Camire and Philip LeBlanc hopped inside the bucket and made the slow, steady ascent over Mammoth Road.

When they reached the top, the two firefighters gently unfurled a giant American flag high above the tree line, bringing a hearty applause from the growing crowd below. .

By 7:30 a.m., the buses pulled out onto Mammoth Road with flashing Londonderry police cruisers and a Marine Corps Humvee from the nearby reserve center leading the way past the giant flag and the cheering crowds. The two-hour parade, which is being televised, will begin Monday afternoon at approximately 3 p.m.

The LHS Lancers will march in the fifth and final segment of the parade.

aguilmet@newstote.com


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