For some American youths, taking part in the 2011 London New Year’s Day parade was their first time overseas.
For Sequim’s Clara Duncan and Sophia Carter, the traveling was nothing new — but seeing in a new year on a different continent was.
The high school seniors were part of a massive contingent of Americans taking part in London’s parade, with more than 10,000 performers representing 20 countries helping ring in 2011.
Duncan, a Sequim High cheerleader, was at a cheer camp in 2010 where she competed against other cheerleaders and was picked to try out for an all-star squad.
That opened the opportunity to join the Universal Cheerleaders Association in London.
“It cost a lot, so a lot of people don’t go,” Duncan says.
Her group was a full 300 cheerleaders strong. Duncan and company marched to the theme of “Footloose,” to which they performed for the two-mile parade that sent them past Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, ending on Parliament Street.
“It went really fast,” Duncan says.
Duncan’s father is a pilot for Alaska Airlines and her mother enjoys travel, so she’s seen Germany, France, Austria, Australia and Ukraine — but she never had been to London before.
She says her group got to take part in several typical tourist-type things, such as seeing the Tower of London, London Bridge, Windsor Castle and Big Ben, taking a cruise and even catching a show.
“They had amazing accents and they’re all really nice people,” Duncan says of the Brits she met.
“The shopping was definitely good,” Duncan adds.
Carter took part in a weeklong drum major camp in August 2010. Instead of a camp competition, she and other drum majors earned ribbons and were selected by judges for their excellence.
Carter said she and the 10 other drum majors had just one, two-hour-long rehearsal and were asked to memorize a video of the choreography in preparation for the parade.
“The parade was really fun,” Carter says. “We performed about six times.”
Carter’s family travels often, as her father is an investment representative with an international firm.
“I really enjoyed all of the history,” Carter says of her trip to London.
“Everything there is five times as old as our country.”
Duncan says she and Carter have known each other since seventh grade and that even though they weren’t in the same group, that it was nice to have a friend on the trip.
And, Duncan says, it was a great opportunity to meet new people.
“(I met) tons of new friends,” she says. “I’d definitely do it again. It was a really tiring trip (with) days full of walking, but it was really fun.”
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.