DANVILLE — A Danville High School cheerleader will ring in the new year six hours ahead of her friends and family back home.
That's because Shaina Allen will be in London to march in the British capital's New Year's Day parade with the Universal Cheerleaders and Universal Dance associations' All American team. She leaves Wednesday and flies home Jan. 2.
"I'm excited to meet the other cheerleaders and even more excited to see London," said Allen, who is going abroad for the first time. "It's going to be a great experience, and I'm really grateful to be getting this opportunity."
Allen is one of 500 cheerleaders and dancers from across the United States who tried out for and were selected as All Americans at a summer camp hosted by the Universal Cheerleaders Association, National Cheerleaders Association, United Spirit Association, Universal Dance Association and National Dance Alliance. According to the UCA, only the top 12 percent of all summer-camp participants make the cut.
Allen, a senior and a co-captain of the varsity cheerleader squad, and other squad members tried out at their school in August. Three others — Carly Kirk, Kati Davis and Latrey Reed — also were selected, but weren't able to go to London.
"It's quite an accomplishment, and I'm so happy for her and her family," head coach Sharda Pascal said. She said Allen is a good student, a member of Delegation show choir and a role model for other students.
"She's just a well-rounded young lady who gives everything she's involved with 150 percent," Pascal said.
This year's All American team will perform a routine to "What Makes You Beautiful" by British boy band One Direction. Members had to learn the routine with the help of a DVD and practice at home. Once in London, they will come together for one practice before the event.
The 2-mile-plus parade route will take them from Piccadilly Circus to Parliament Square. Along the way, they will pass by such landmarks as Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
Allen will be accompanied on the trip by her mother, Michele Allen, and her aunt, Kim Broadie, both of Danville. She said the three are looking forward to seeing those sights, going on a Thames River cruise, watching the changing-of-the-guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace and, if they're lucky, catching a glimpse of Prince William.
Allen also is eager to celebrate New Year's Eve in London, which is known for holding a large fireworks show over the river.
"I want to stay up late," Allen said, even though she will have to wake up early the next morning.
While the parade will be televised in Britain, Allen isn't sure whether it will be shown back in the U.S. She said cheerleaders will be given a DVD of their performance, which she plans to share with classmates through the high school's Channel One News program.