UNION — A local resident says a trip he took through Limestone College made for the best New Year’s celebration he has ever experienced.
TJ Jeter graduated from Limestone College in December with a music degree, and during Christmas break he was allowed to make one final field trip with his fellow Limestone musicians.
Jeter said several dignitaries from London — including former Lord Mayor of Westminster, Catherine Longworth — invited the Limestone College Wind Ensemble to perform a concert in Cadogan Hall during London’s annual New Year’s Festival.
“When they came over to invite us, they flew to Gaffney to give a personal invitation,” Jeter said. “They had it set up for the wind ensemble and steel drum band to play for them.”
Jeter plays a regular drum set with the steel drum band known as the Limestone College iPan Band.
“When they heard the steel drums, they asked if we could come too,” Jeter said.
When the councillors from London learned the college now has a marching band to accompany its football team — which will begin playing during the fall of this year — the marching band was also invited to perform in London’s New Year’s Day Parade.
All three music ensembles left on Dec. 28 and returned home on Jan. 4.
Jeter said the iPan Band actually had two performances in London, as they also performed at a reception following the parade. Jeter also mentioned that fellow Union native Steven Jennings — who currently resides in Gaffney — was also with him on the trip and performed in all three groups.
Jeter said this was his first trip to London and only his second time on an airplane. He said he thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sites of London such as Big Ben, London Bridge, the Tower of London, the London Eye, Millennium Bridge, and his favorite, Buckingham Palace.
“It was huge,” he said. “There was gold everywhere — on the gates and the statues out front. We also saw the famous guards with the big bearskin hats.”
Jeter said he will never forget spending New Year’s Eve standing beneath Big Ben at midnight to watch fireworks.
“It was the best New Year’s Eve I ever had,” he said.
Jeter said since he had already graduated on Dec. 12, he was only allowed to go on the trip because of Limestone Director of Bands, Dr. Doug Presley, who arranged the trip and wanted Jeter to go.
“He is one of my favorite professors there,” Jeter said. “He always looks out for me. If I ever have a problem on campus, I know I can ask him. Anything he needs me to do, I try to get it done. Anything I need him to do, he treats it the same way.”
Jeter said he made some new friends during the trip, and when the time came, he was not ready to leave.
“I was having fun,” he said. “Being around different people and because of how beautiful the city was, I wasn’t ready to leave just yet. The food was a little bit different, but I was getting used to that.”
TJ Jeter is the son of Manning “Truck” Jeter and Maretta Jeter.