The West High School Marching Band performing at Disney, crossing the front of Cinderella’s Castle.
By Joseph Pratt
Members of Portsmouth West High School Marching Band became stars of their own Disney show on June 3, when they entertained resort guests at the Magic Kingdom Park.
Fifty-five students, under the direction of Mike Pierce and Sonja Thompson, entertained Magic Kingdom Park guests as they marched through Frontierland and around Cinderella Castle onto Main Street, U.S.A. before the “Festival of Fantasy Parade.”
“Every student worked very hard to make this trip possible, from selling fruit to working bake sales,” Pierce said. “Every single student was ecstatic. For many of the students, it might be the only chance they have to experience Disney. I think they will remember it for a very long time and maybe never even forget.”
Pierce said that a trip to Disney has been a goal of his since he began directing the band eight years ago, but it escaped him between competitions and the attempt of receiving new uniforms.
“The trip was sort of put on the back burner, but then Becky Lovins came in last year to assist with color guard, and one of the first things she suggested was the trip to Disney,” Pierce said. “It actually brought my time there whole circle from the first time I stepped in front of the band.”
This trip was the last one Pierce will take with the West Portsmouth High School Marching Band, since he has officially retired from education after 34 years.
The band performed the school’s song, as well as a medley of Disney songs.
“The trip to Disney and the marching in the parade was just a great way to culminate my career,” Pierce said.
Vocal, instrumental and dance ensembles from all around the world perform each year as a part of Disney Performing Arts at both the Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort. Once selected, they are given the opportunity to perform at the resort for an international audience of theme park guests.
Many entertainment outlets throughout the country submit applications to perform in the daily parade, but few receive the honor. Pierce said that the band had to submit a video of a performance and a list of achievements and awards to receive a spot in the parade.
“There were a few bands to march and perform, but we led the parade,” Pierce said. “It is a very select opportunity for skilled bands. Only one of 20 bands that apply are chosen to perform.
Ryan Urban has been hired as the new band director and the students have already received their music and are preparing their upcoming season.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.