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London New Year's Day parade marks 30th Anniversary

Participants get ready before taking part in the London New Year's Day Parade Image copyright PA
Image caption Dozens of marching bands from the US took part

Marching bands, cheerleaders and acrobats have marked the 30th year of London's New Year's Day parade.

More than 8,500 performers representing 20 different countries marched the route from Green Park to Parliament Square, televised in the US and other countries.

For the finale an illusionist completed a stunt that risked him drowning.

After extra armed police at the new year fireworks display, a spokesman said there was "appropriate security".

More than 50,000 spectators were expected to watch the free event which had a magic theme this year.

Executive director Bob Bone started the event with his wife Geri in the 1980s after they had wanted to take their children out on New Year's Day and found most museums, theatres, cinemas, restaurants and shops were closed.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Five giant helium balloons featured which took hours to inflate

He told BBC News in 2010: "We decided then and there not to merely moan - but to do something about it!"

For the parade's finale illusionist Darcy Oake attempted to unshackle himself by unpicking two locks with his head submerged underwater in a glass box.

Image caption Darcy Oake said it was the first time the challenge had been attempted in the UK

Canadian Darcy, who appeared on the ITV show Britain's Got Talent in 2014, said he nearly died twice rehearsing the stunt in the beginning.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The parade was screened live in the US

Spectators looked concerned as he appeared to struggle to open the padlock that would finally open the glass case but he completed the challenge successfully.

He said: "I'm alive; that's all I can say.

"It's the first time it's ever been done in the UK and live on television."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Members of the Caporal's San Simon Londres Latin American folk group

Five giant helium balloons designed for the event - including a mayoral figure that took several hours to inflate - also featured this year.

Marching bands from high schools and universities across the US took part including Southmoore High School in Oklahoma. The school's area was badly hit by a the 2013 tornado.

Bands director Adam Mewhorter said: "It's great for these kids to be here at all. The fact they came from a tornado to do it is that much better."

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