While many students were taking it easy over the holiday break, the Boardman Spartan Marching Band and Jazz Ensemble I traveled to Orlando, Fla., to perform once again at Disney World.
"The Spartan Marching Band has performed in Disney World just about every four years for the last couple decades or so," said Boardman band director Thomas Ruggieri. "Between Boardman and Liberty High School, it has been my most frequent trip."
Like anything in life, there is a cost and a trip to Florida is not cheap. Ruggieri said there are a lot of opportunities for students to raise the money.
Photos special to the Town Crier
Boardman performers Rachel Ruggieri and Luke Hagerman sing 'Jump Jive and Wail' on the waterside stage at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., over the holiday break. The band made the trip to Florida and were invited to take part in several performances.
"We started last May with a Spring Flower Sale," Ruggieri said. "Other projects over the summer and to the present include Handel's ice cream cards, DiRusso's Sausage, Cleveland Indians tickets, poinsettias, and citrus fruit."
The band trip is not one that can just be made. Ruggieri said there is an application that must be submitted almost a year prior to the trip. Because of the Boardman bands' reputation, the application was almost immediately accepted for both the marching band and the jazz band.
After Christmas, the band headed south in five motor coaches and one equipment truck. They spent the better part of a week at Disney World and had the chance to perform. The Jazz Ensemble I took to the waterside stage in downtown Disney.
"The audience loved the music and the Jazz Ensemble received a lot of positive comments from the audience as well as from Disney's representatives," said Carmen Amadio, president of the Boardman Band and Orchestra Parents.
The 210-member marching band got their spotlight after being invited to participate in "Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime" Parade at Disney's Magic Kingdom.
While the band members enjoyed their winter break trip, they also got an experience they couldn't obtain back in Ohio.
"From the students' point of view, they will see 'fun' as the primary benefit of band trips," Ruggieri said. "An adult perspective sees the importance of performing for an international audience (you cannot find a more culturally diverse audience in the USA than at Disney World during the holidays). We love our crowds and fans at local performances, but it is especially thrilling for the students to perform for people who have not seen us before. Also, the preparation and 'psyching up' we do for things like this are invaluable in the long run."
Since it was Disney's busiest time of the year, the Boardman kids got to perform before sell-out crowds from across the nation and the world.
Ruggieri said the day the band arrived, the temperatures were in the mid 60s and the locals were in winter coats and scarfs. By Saturday (New Year's Eve) the weather had climbed into the 70s with no rain. The band members got to celebrate the countdown on Saturday in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
"It was a huge dance party with a great band and awesome fireworks," Ruggieri said.
He added that band members also got to be behind the scenes and what actually goes on when producing top quality entertainment. They saw a large number of career possibilities in the entertainment industry, gaining a lot more than they expected on the trip. They returned home last week with memories that will last a lifetime.
This year's trip was somewhat different than past trips. It was becoming a tradition to also participate in the Citrus Bowl Parade, but after poor treatment of marching bands four years ago, Ruggieri decided to focus just on Disney, which he said he was glad he did.