- Associated Press - Saturday, March 29, 2014

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) - The University of Northern Iowa Panther Marching Band will ring in the new year in the Old World.

The band has been asked to march in the London New Year’s Day Parade on Jan. 1, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported (http://bit.ly/1gN22xV).

“They contacted me out of the blue,” said Danny Galyen, director of the UNI marching band.

Galyen said he believes it will be the first time the UNI band has performed internationally.

“We have a number of students that have never flown before or been out of country, so they’re really excited to go,” he said.

A selection committee of top-tier music educators made recommendations about which bands to invite. Thousands of featured performers from around the world will march past such landmarks as Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster.

The parade’s website says it attracts twice as many spectators as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York.

Students who choose to attend will spend Dec. 27 through Jan. 3 in London, touring famous nearby landmarks such as Stonehenge. Many are already saving to pay for the $3,100 journey.

Laura Rodriguez, a junior music education major, found a night job washing dishes in the UNI dining hall to help fund the trip.

Rodriguez is one of four drum majors who direct music and lead the band.

“I might be a little biased, but I think we have the best marching band in the state,” she said.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com