Under the direction of Sarah Holten, the Fillmore Central Choir performed several selections at the waterfront stage at Disney World. COURTESY OF JESSICA POWELL
Under the direction of Sarah Holten, the Fillmore Central Choir performed several selections at the waterfront stage at Disney World. COURTESY OF JESSICA POWELL
Fillmore Central's band and choir students, along with numerous chaperones and their music instructors, boarded charter buses in the early morning hours of Monday, June 16, to embark on an adventure. After years of fundraising, rehearsals and marching lessons, the students headed south, bound for Walt Disney World in Florida, where the band would march at the Magic Kingdom and the choir would perform in Downtown Disney.

Following their return, band directors Lane and Jessica Powell and student Keeley Todd shared their impressions of the trip and thanked the community for its generous support of the music program and this trip.

The marching band performed on Wednesday, June 18, for what the Powells and Keeley described as an enormous and enthusiastic crowd of fans.

"They were 10 to 15 deep," said Lane in regard to the number of audience members lining the street, watching them march.

The band performed Pitbull's "Give Me Everything Tonight," a song he chose because it would be familiar and popular with the public and especially the kids.

Keeley even noted that some of the audience members were singing along to the song as they marched by.

"It was great hearing the little kids react," she added as she described her feelings of marching with the color guard. "As they were opening the gates, it kind of hit me that this was actually happening."

Jessica, who advises the color guard, agreed and told Keeley how she and her fellow band members could be the inspiration for children to join their own band or color guard in the future.

"Some kids come to the park to see princesses, but others come to watch the band and this time, you're it," she added.

Lane also noted that many people were taking photos of the local band, which made the kids feel a bit like "rock stars!"

Keeley admitted to being a little nervous as the band and color guard were warming up for their performance, but once they got started, the band fell into step and their performance was underway.

Jessica said the Disney streets are narrower than what the color guard is used to, but she didn't have to change any moves. Keeley added that at first she was a bit concerned about twirling the flags as the audience seemed so close.

The choir performed the following day and Keeley said she was once again surprised by the response given by the audience.

The choir selections included some popular songs as well and Keeley said some of the choir members had to learn a few Tapestry songs to add into the program.

"It was less formal," Keeley said about the tone of the choir concert. "It was like a concert we would perform in Harmony."

In addition to the parents and community members who travelled with the group as chaperones, Lane noted about 20 additional people from the area came specifically to watch the band and choir perform at Disney.

The Fillmore Central band had marched in the evening parade at Disney in 2008, but this year marched in the afternoon parade, which, Lane said, he actually preferred. The students were able to watch the popular evening parade and fireworks since their performance had already taken place.

During their stay in Florida, the students and their chaperones enjoyed nearly every theme park in the area, with the exception of Sea World, Lane said. Both he and Jessica said the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios was "the best ride, ever!"

"I'm not usually an amusement park person," Jessica said. "But Harry Potter was enormous and it's so real!"

Other attractions included Typhoon Lagoon, DisneyQuest, Animal Kingdom, Epcot Center, Hollywood Studios and The Islands of Adventure parks.

The students stayed at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, which is located next to the Orlando Convention Center. "It was beautiful," said Lane and said the students were in awe of the size of it. Not only are there several restaurants located within the hotel complex, but also a convenience store and coffee bar.

Lane stated that the students were very well behaved and represented the local communities very well. While law enforcement from Orlando was hired to provide security, there were no issues or complications on the trip.

He also complimented the chaperones, who were "fantastic and easy to work with."

The entire trip was overseen by Summit Tour and Travel in Orlando and Lane, Jessica and Keeley all agreed their tour guide, Brian, was the best ever. Lane said he lives in the Orlando area, so knows the different parks really well and has great connections that helped make the band and choir students' experience even better.

Additional gratitude was expressed for the school for allowing the trip and the necessary fundraisers; to Jay Masters and the volunteers of the annual Monster Bash; to Sue Ostrom for organizing the wreath sales.

While the trip was not all smooth sailing, with a few mechanical issues on one of the buses, Lane said it was a minor thing in the whole scheme of things.

He said Hawkeye Stages was great to work with by providing a substitute bus and paying for a dance for the students at the hotel one night during their stay in Florida to make up for any delays or frustrations they may have experienced.

As the three remembered their experiences on their Florida adventure, all agreed that it was a great experience and were grateful to all those who supported the band, choir and fundraisers.

"It's such a big trip," Keeley added. "It takes so long to fundraise and prepare, but now it's over and it was my last event as a student. Now it's hit me that I've really graduated."

"It is good for the whole community and it would not have been possible without the whole community," Lane concluded.