We lived our best life in London this week. It’s all because of the people we’ve met, the places we’ve seen and the memories we’ve made.
Today, the first day of an incredible year ahead, we gathered with thousands of others in the streets of London to participate in the New Year’s Day Parade. It was beyond our wildest expectations. While it was incredible to be able to tour a city as historic as this, getting to cheer and dance through the boroughs of London, while a potential of 600 million viewers watched around the world, catapulted this experience to a whole new level.
This year was the 32nd annual LNYDP, and Varsity Spirit has brought crowd-leading excitement, along with a polished presence, for 30 of those years. The Lord Mayor of Westminster proclaimed, “The cheerleaders and dancers over the years who have come with Varsity Spirit have transformed this parade into what it is, and today was the best one we’ve had yet!” Wow… We’ve always known how important cheerleaders and dancers are in the camaraderie of game day, parades and other group events, but hearing it from the Lord Mayor humbled us and made us beam with pride; that’s all thanks to every one of you!
We arrived at the starting point of the parade early in the morning, uniforms on, poms in hand, with unintentional smiles glued to our faces. Just imagine marching bands in every direction playing those familiar songs you have come to love under the Friday night lights. You could hear drum lines practicing from blocks away and snare drums ricocheting off the historic landmarks we took in throughout the week.
Soon, sidewalks were covered with thousands of people who were ready for a show! Seeing the crowd’s reaction, as the cheerleaders and dancers performed, was an immediate reminder that what we do is much bigger than ourselves. We even witnessed the parade attendees celebrate the performances that the All-Americans worked so hard to perfect. The little girl in the crowd begging for attention from the pompom holders & people throwers, the grandmother that hit a “High V” to show her appreciation as we passed by and the hundreds of voices chiming in as we chanted, “L-O-N-D-O-N, we love London!” all played a special role in making this day extraordinary.
As we rounded the final corner of the parade route, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament came into sight, and we knew our last performance was near. The excitement continued to grow. Colorful confetti began to fall from the sky, much like it does when the ball drops in Times Square, and we received the greatest “Happy New Year, #VarsityLondon!” one can imagine. The energy level was off the charts. The hyper, enthusiastic crowd yelled and cheered for us as we yelled and cheered for them. There is no feeling so powerful as that of humans supporting humans.
“You travel not to find yourself but to realize who you were all along.” This rings as true as the New Year, for us. This week, we became aware of how different, and similar, we all are. Getting to know others helped us get to know ourselves better. We can’t thank you enough… Thank you, All-Americans, for your hard work and your dedication to being the best version of yourselves. Thank you, parents, for making this trip possible and for trusting Varsity Spirit with your, beyond magnificent, cheerleaders and dancers. Thank you, London, for being the most welcoming and hospitable city and for giving us an experience of a lifetime. We miss you all, already.
With the happiest hearts,
– Henry and Liza, your #VarsityLondon Correspondents