By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
What better way to welcome the arrival of Spring than to celebrate it in the “sunshine state” of Florida? There is no doubt about it …. Lincoln High School Marching Band students were thinking of little else than their trip to Disney last week!
According to Lincoln Band Director Fred Channell, Orlando’s Disney World is “the happiest place on earth”! Being selected to perform in one of Disney’s Magic Kingdom parades provided both an opportunity for great exposure for the band, some well-deserved fun and workshop opportunities.
“There has been a lot of excitement among our band students recently. It kind of compares to how kids feel the on Christmas Eve!” he said. “For some of our students, it is their first trip to Disney … and a few mentioned that they had never been to the beach, so we will also stop off at Cocoa Beach for a couple of hours to remedy that as well!”
Mr. Channell explained what all is involved in the selection of bands to participate in Disney parades, saying that the application process began during the last school year!
“It is a rigorous process. We prepared and sent an audition tape because they want to hear the band; they want to see the uniforms, check out band size, etc. And we have traveled there before, so they know we have a good reputation,” he stated.
Mr. Channell noted that he tries to work in a Disney trip every four years or so. The Lincoln Marching Band has also attended the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City and has performed at Lincoln Center.
“Not only is it a wonderful opportunity for our students, it also gives us a chance to show what we have here in the Shinnston/Lumberport area. Our kids are ambassadors for our school and they are a talented group of students. Trips like this allow us to showcase that talent!”
Three charter buses left last Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., carrying 109 students and lots of adult chaperones. They arrived at Cocoa Beach, Florida at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning for a little beach time and checked in at Disney’s All Star Music Hotel by 4 p.m. that same afternoon. On Sunday morning, they were marching in the opening ceremonies parade at the Magic Kingdom!
Students got to enjoy five days in sunny Florida. Yes, they first had a job to do – participating in the parade – but there was also time to explore the Disney parks and some students participated in animation workshops as well as spending time with some of the musical artists there.
Mr. Channell added, “When a band performs in a Disney parade, they are considered ‘Disney performers’ and there are strict rules! If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you know that everything looks ‘perfect’, and part of that perfection trickles down to their performers. For example, the guys all have to be clean-shaven; no non-comforming hair colors are allowed – nor is colored nail polish! Even our uniforms had to gain their approval!”
There was MUCH time spent rehearsing prior to the trip! Channell said he had lost track of just how much time had been devoted to practicing. Between cadences during the parade, the Lincoln band played “Bully”,a song specifically chosen because of its anti-bullying message and a song that was part of their field show this year.
“This was a great opportunity for our students and we wanted to make our school proud. And I can’t say enough about how hard our students personally worked at fund-raising. We also want to thank contributors who helped us too.”
The Lincoln Cougar Marching Band sports new uniforms this year! This, too, has meant lots of fundraising events because the cost of the 150 new uniforms amounted to between $150,00-$160,000! A third of this amount was paid when the order was made; another third was paid on delivery of the new uniforms; and the balance is due in June.
“We have worked hard to raise funds to cover this, but we still have $20,000 to go before the final payment in June,” Mr. Channell continued. “And I can’t say enough about the support we have been given by our administration and our superintendent Dr. Mark Manchin. He and Mr. Lopez gave us some funds from the school’s contingency fund to put towards our uniforms. But we still have some fund-raising to do when we return. And then there is funding for band camp as well, so it will be a busy spring for us!”
The Cougar band is currently 126 members strong. And ‘no child was left behind’ on this trip if they wanted to go. Sponsors stepped up to the plate for those with financial problems to ensure that anyone with parental permission who wanted to participate in the trip could go and enjoy this experience of a lifetime. The band is expected to return from Disney today.
Anyone who would like to contribute to the uniform campaign, feel free to contact Mr. Channell at Lincoln High School (304-326-7400).