HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall University’s “Marching Thunder” will be marching through Rome, Italy to start 2017.

About 80 members of the Thundering Herd’s marching band are preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean to be part of the Eternal City’s New Year’s Day Parade.

“They’re saying it’s going to be between 150,000 and 200,000 people on the streets and then that doesn’t include the TV audience,” said Dr. Adam Dalton, Marshall’s director of athletic bands.

He described the parade as Rome’s equivalent of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

“We perform at home football events all the time. We perform at community events all the time, but we don’t usually get a chance to get out of our little area, so we’re getting out of our area in a major way,” Dalton told MetroNews.

In March, Duncan Sandys, a great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, made an appearance in Huntington to formally invite band members to Rome.

Sandys, a past Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster, is senior patron of London’s New Year’s Day Parade and serves in a similar capacity for parades in other European cities, including Rome, which are run through Continental Europe Destination Events.

Band members leave Huntington on Dec. 30 and make their way to Rome via Washington, D.C. and London.

They’ll be staying right outside of Vatican City with a view of St. Peter’s Basilica, Dalton said.

As for the parade route in Rome, “It starts at the Piazza del Popolo and makes its way down one of the main shopping streets in Rome and I would say it’s a little over a mile once you make the loop twice,” he explained.

The Rome New Year’s Day Parade ends back on the Piazza del Popolo after traveling along Via del Corso, Via dei Condotti, Piazza di Spagna, Via del Babuino, Via di Ripetta, Piazza Augusto Imperatore and Via del Corso.

Other bands participating in the Rome New Year’s Day Parade include the Archibishop Riordan High School Crusader Marching Band out of San Francisco, Ca.; the Germantown High School Marching Band from Wisconsin; the University of Northern Iowa Panther March Bands and the University of South Florida Marching Band.

After the parade, Marshall’s band members will get in some sightseeing with tours of parts of Rome along with Pompeii and Naples. They’ll return to the U.S. on Jan. 6, 2017.

As far as Dalton knows, this is the first time the Marching Thunder has gone international. In the future, Dalton said he’d like to be able to plan similar trips for band members every four years or so.

The participating students, about 80 out of the Marching Thunder’s 215 total members, are paying for the trip with help from Marshall University.

More information on Rome’s New Year’s Day Parade is available¬†HERE.

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