By: Alivia Melius
On the afternoon of Dec. 3, sounds of a familiar Pennsylvania based marching band filled the air at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The Tussey Mountain “Titan” Band played the famous Christmas tune, “Jingle Bells” as they led the parade down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.
Originally, the marching band was not sure they would be performing in Disney World. “The last trip was five years ago when this year’s seniors were in 7th grade,” marching band director Bonnie Jenkins said. “Many were unable to attend the trip at that time and asked if there was a possibility of going [during] their senior year, and we were able to make it happen,” Jenkins said.
After reaching a decision to try out, the group auditioned for a place in a Disney parade last fall with a video from their annual appearance at the Saxton Halloween Parade, Veteran’s Day Parade, and this year’s Fireman’s Convention Parade in Six Mile Run, Pennsylvania. In early September, the marching band was informed they would be able to perform in Disney. Much preparation went into the trip such as extra practices and several fundraisers. This year, the band boosters decided on a raffle to raise money for costs as their main project for the school year. Students were provided raffle tickets to sell for prizes that included a kayak, power tools supplied by Saxton Surplus, a pellet smoker grill, cornhole game, Michael Kors handbag, fire ring, and various cash prizes. The band made a grand total of $4020 from the raffle. The band members also held their annual Peanut Butter Meltaway sale and Christmas candy sale through Gardner’s Candies.
Some students had saved money through fundraising since they were in seventh grade in hopes of going on this trip. For many students, this opportunity gave them their first Disney experience. This was my first time in Disney,” senior color guard Cierra Yochum said. “This year, I put in a lot of time fundraising and saving up. [The trip] was better than I could’ve ever imagined.”
The band departed on a charter bus from Tussey Mountain High School on the evening of Dec. 1, and arrived in Orlando the next afternoon. The following day, the band headed to Magic Kingdom to play in a parade march. Before going out for their performance, cast members distributed official Disney Performing Arts Mickey Mouse ears for the musicians to wear during the parade and take home as souvenirs. The ears are exclusive to Disney Performing Arts acts only. After the parade ended, Tussey Mountain was given a recognition award for performing in a Walt Disney World Parade. “Our Disney guide for the parade complimented them on their preparation and professionalism,” Jenkins said.
“Since I come from a very small school, being able to have this chance to perform at Disney World was amazing and a once in a lifetime opportunity that I’ll always remember,” junior drum major Ethan Schneider said. “I was very proud to represent my school, area, and state in the parade.”
“Being a small school, I think that it’s really cool that we got to go to a place like Disney,” seventh grade saxophonist Alexis Sumner said.
Throughout the trip, they visited Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs. “My favorite part of the trip was the parade and going to all the parks with my neighbor, Emma,” Schneider said. “Animal Kingdom was my favorite park because of the Avatar ride and Expedition Everest.”
“Marching in Disney is always a magical experience and this year proved no different. As you march through Magic Kingdom, the people are everywhere cheering you on. It is the best feeling in the world when you make the curve around the castle and head down main street,” Jenkins said. “The students did an amazing job.”