SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 21, 2013

Marching to the Magic Kingdom

Danvers High's well-traveled band prepares for Disney parade

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — For members of the Danvers High Falcon Marching Band, this week meant last-minute trip instructions and some tough rehearsal time. The reward comes next week, when they head to Orlando, Fla., to march in holiday parades at Universal Studios and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

“This is the home stretch,” band director Ron Parsons told students Thursday. “Anything worth working for is worth working hard for.”

The rehearsal would not be easy, Parsons warned. It would involve band members marching in place and playing flat-out to the four walls of the band room for 30 minutes. Today, the band will be simulating a parade by marching around the parking lot.

“We always make practice harder than the performance,” Parsons said. The parades require the band to play Christmas tunes for 20 minutes, so playing for longer than that will build the students’ stamina.

For many seniors in the band, who joined as eighth-graders, this will be their fourth trip in five years. Normally, the band travels every other year, and Parsons said this is the first time has known of seniors having taken four band trips.

“I think that’s pretty cool,” he said. “I don’t think it gets too much better than that for a high-school kid to pretty much travel halfway around the world, perform at both Disney parks, perform in Hawaii and New York City.”

The band marched in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1, 2010, and at Disneyland during the same trip. They traveled to Hawaii at the end of 2011 to perform in parades and performances marking the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. And they marched in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City in March. Now it’s on to Florida.

Abbey Bolduc said she is one of those lucky seniors.

“I am trying to make this trip the best out of all of them,” said Bolduc, who plays the piccolo. “This is my last hurrah. I’m really looking forward to spending a week in Florida with my friends and just having a good time.”

The Falcon Band made its first big trip to Disney under Parsons’ direction in the spring of 1990. It’s been four times more since then.

“Every trip is unique,” Parsons said. “Just the destination and the performance venues, and it’s just a different group of students with different personalities. So we just try to tailor our preparations to the venue we are performing at to make it exciting, educational, and fun and entertaining.”

“I’m pretty excited about the trip, personally,” said Don Bean, a drummer. “I think it will be really fun because you go and you are with all your friends.”

“I’m excited to just being with my friends and experiencing the parade,” said junior Erin Haley, a piccolo player. “The rehearsal is really hard, but it pays off. We practice what we perform so you just have to push through.”

The band leaves Friday, Dec. 27, and will march in the Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios Florida on Sunday. It’s an 8 p.m. parade, and the band has wired all its drums with Christmas lights.

The band will then march on New Year’s Eve day in a parade in the Magic Kingdom.

Parsons said the trips never get old. The band’s staff is always learning new things about traveling and the logistics involved in moving 135 band members from place to place.

“You almost have to be thinking a day in advance when you are on the trip,” Parsons said.

Also making the trip will be Bob Mulvanity, the visual designer and assistant director; his wife, Bridget, who is the color guard instructor and choreographer; and Peter Furnari, the percussion instructor and writer. The trip also will include 10 chaperones.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.