Southern Nash band featured in Disney World parade

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The Southern Nash High School band was featured in a Magic Kingdom parade Nov. 18 at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Southern Nash was only two bands selected to march in the 6:45 p.m. parade that day. The route took band members down Magic Kingdom’s Main Street in front of the park’s iconic Cinderella Castle. Participating in the parade was the grand finale of the band’s trip to Walt Disney World, a trip that took a year to plan and organize.

The school began planning the trip in November 2016. Band Director Matthew Ray challenged the school’s band booster organization to collect enough money to fund a trip to Disney World so the band would have the chance to march in a Disney parade. The goal was $25,000, an amount that would minimize out-of-pocket expenses for students and their families.

The booster club launched an extensive fundraising campaign and asked for donations from the community. It took an entire year to secure the necessary funding. Students began practicing their routine for the parade in early October, even with the strenuous marching band season already being in full swing.

A total of 35 students and 11 chaperones departed Southern Nash High around midnight on the morning of Nov. 16. The band arrived around noon on that same day and spent the rest of their day at Epcot. Students were able to enjoy several popular attractions at the park and view the nighttime fireworks display over the park’s World Showcase Lagoon.

The next day, students visited the Animal Kingdom theme park. The band received a private escort through the fast-pass line to ride Walt Disney World’s newest attraction, Avatar: Flight of Passage. Friday evening, the students attended Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba. The performance included high-flying acrobatics and dance moves.

The final day of the trip was spent at Magic Kingdom. Since it was also Mickey Mouse’s birthday, the park was filled with thousands of people. This provided a full audience for the parade that featured the Southern Nash band.

“I am thankful that everyone arrived home safely and that the students had the opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people in the park,” Ray said. “I am grateful to work with such a wonderful group of young people who have a heart and passion for music. This trip would not have been possible without the assistance of the parents and chaperones that attended with us.”

Southern Nash senior marching band member Madisyn Baines recalled her favorite parts of the trip.

“I had an amazing time at Disney World,” she said. “It was my first time going, and going with the band made it great because I was able to go with my friends. My favorite part was seeing the fireworks show in Magic Kingdom. Disney was a great way to finish my senior marching season.”

Band member Sam Howell also shared his reflections.

“The trip was fun and amazing,” Howell said. “I am glad I got to go. It was my first time going to Disney World and I enjoyed all the rides and marching in the parade.”

Another Southern Nash band member, Mackenzie Melton, wanted to thank those who helped make the trip possible.

“I enjoyed every bit of my very first trip to Disney World and I am glad I was able to go with my band friends,” Melton said. “I am also thankful for the people who contributed to every fundraiser we did and for the parents who made it possible for us to go. It was all worth it.”