A few weeks ago, The Macon County Marching Band took their long-anticipated trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.
The kids and their parents have been raising funds and saving for months in order to take the trip. They’ve known for months that they’d been docked to march and play in front of crowds of thousands in a parade through Magic Kingdom’s main thoroughfare. In order to get this spot, they had to submit an application to Disney that included a video of the band performing.
The group that finally went down consisted of 51 students and 20 faculty, family members, and volunteer chaperones. They were gone from Thursday to Monday, a long weekend, and their big performance was on Friday morning.
“We had quite a few kids who had never been to Walt Disney World before, so their first time seeing the Disney castle for real was when they marched in that parade,” said band Director Shawn Mitterholzer. “We turned this corner, and then all of a sudden we were marching at the castle… It was probably the best they’ve sounded and looked in a parade, so they really represented the school well, the community well, the program well. I’m real proud of them for that.”
The group got to see all the major parks of Walt Disney World: Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood studios. Besides that, they experienced a few other things that will be hard to forget: a performance of the Blue Man Group (during which one of the kids was invited up onstage to participate in the show), and seeing the ocean.
Mitterholzer said that when they went down to the beach, he positioned himself so that he could watch the busses unloading and the kids reacting to the view as they came over the bluff.
“Watching these kids that had never seen the ocean was amazing. One girl actually got choked up over it… So it was this great musical experience, but there were also all these life experiences that the kids had on this trip—that they might never have again. It’s pretty neat, being in the position I am, that I can help facilitate those experiences for the kids. And then getting to be there while they experience it is pretty amazing.”