RAMSEY, N.J. — The Ramsey High School Big Blue Marching Band are going international as participating members of Rome's New Year's Day parade .
The band will wind their way down the Via della Conciliazione (Road of the Conciliation) from the Castle of the Holy Angel to Saint Peter's Square to help Italy ring in the new year on Jan. 1.
"I'm so proud of them," Band Director Clifford Bialkin told Daily Voice. "Because they work hard they get recognized and get to do things like this."
The band — which has won multiple awards at the national level — is marching in the parade on exclusive invitation from the fine arts branch of the Italian government. The band in years past was invited to march in London and Paris.
"I'm very excited to play in Rome," said Jacob Ziff, a sophomore at Ramsey High School who plays the baritone. "It will be the experience of a lifetime."
The band leaves for the six-day trip on Dec. 27 and returns on Jan. 3. Bialkin says some 212 performers and staff are attending, and everyone is paying out of pocket.
While abroad, Bialkin says the band has plans to sight-see all over Rome and also take a trip to Pompeii.
"I've been out of the country before," said Ziff, "but this is definitely the most exhilarating trip I've ever taken."