RAMSEY, N.J. — The Ramsey High School Band helped the Romans celebrate the New Year by marching down Via della Conciliazione before thousands of spectators on New Year's Day.
The award-winning band visited the ancient city on special invitation from the fine arts branch of the Italian government. It was among only two bands from the United States to have the honor of marching in the parade.
"I think the kids had a phenomenal time," Band Director Clifford Bialkin told Daily Voice.
"When we came down the street and they saw the throngs of people they realized how big this was."
Marching bands are a novelty among the brass bands in Europe, Bialkinsaid.
"The audience really loved them," he said. "People stopped to listen for an hour."
Some 212 parents, faculty, and students from the jazz and marching bands at Ramsey High School made the six day trip to Rome.
The students marched two and a half miles from the Castel Saint Angelo to the Vatican City, culminating in a performance in Saint Peter's Square.
The band also performed in front of the Spanish Steps in the Piazza di Spagna before a crowd of four thousand on New Year's Eve.
The students took in multiple sites during the trip as well, including the Colosseum, the Vatican, Frascati, and Pompeii, Bialkin said.
"For me it was probably the best trip I have taken with them," said Bialkin, who has taken the band abroad four other times in the past.
"Everything went very smoothly, the kids behavior was great, and they performed very well."
The marching band is a more tight knit group after having spent the past week traveling together, he added.
"Whenever we come back from these trips the kids are a lot closer," Bialkin said. "It's a once in a lifetime experience for a lot of kids."
"It is something they will always remember and I think they had an unbelievable experience."
CLICK HERE for more pictures from the trip.