MOREHEAD CITY — West Carteret High School band members received a surprise visit Tuesday from Mickey Mouse and Disney Performing Arts representatives from Orlando, Fla.
The Disney team came to announce that the 180-member band is the only high school band in the nation selected to march in this year’s Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade in Orlando.
They were selected from among the nation’s top high school bands that applied for the spot, according to Disney public relations coordinator Jessica Baker during a press conference held in the school’s auditorium.
The West Carteret band boosters are helping finance the trip, and fundraising events will be held to ensure all students are able to go, according to band director Craig Everett.
“No child will be left behind,” he said.
The parade, including the band’s performance, will be televised on Christmas Day on ABC television network. Ms. Baker said residents would need to check their local listings to see what time the pre-recorded parade will be shown.
Disney is also shooting video footage and still photos of the band’s preparations for the parade to possibly be telecast as part of the Christmas Day program. They left digital cameras with the students to also shoot their own candids.
“The only thing I can definitely confirm right now is that the band’s performance will be televised,” she said. “There is still a lot being worked out.”
Mr. Everett said he was thrilled the band was selected.
“I always tell the kids that when you work toward a goal as a team great things can happen,” he said. “Not only will the band represent the high school, but we’ll represent Carteret County Schools and Morehead City. We’re going to have a fantastic trip and this is such an honor.”
The Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade is taped primarily inside the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., approximately one month prior to Christmas Day.
Mr. Everett said the band would leave Nov. 28 for Orlando and return Dec. 2. As part of the trip, the band will also get behind-the-scenes tours of Disney. Two of the days will be spent filming the parade.
The parade down Main Street, U.S.A. features appearances by Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck, as well as floats featuring celebrities, musical performances, marching bands from a school and community groups, and highlights of events and properties at Disney theme parks and other Disney productions.
Disney Performing Arts sponsors the parade, and also offers workshops, as well as performance and competition opportunities for thousands of students every year at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts, according to a release given out during the press conference. Bands march along the streets of the Disney theme parks every day but only one band each year gets to take part in the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.
The band submitted a performance tape to be considered for the parade, but their musical performance wasn’t the only thing that was considered. The band was also selected based on its commitment to academics and music education, along with its record of service and performance in the community.
Band students, donning Mickey Mouse ears handed out at the beginning of the press conference, said they were excited about being selected for the trip.
“It’s an honor and very exciting,” said sophomore drum major Jarrett Swearingen, who added he’s never been to Disney World. “It will be exciting just being there and seeing everything.”
Junior drum major Tanner Davis agreed.
“It’s a real honor to be able to go and march in the Disney parade,” he said.
As well as band students, county school officials and Morehead City Mayor Jerry Jones attended the conference.
Superintendent Dr. Dan Novey said the band’s selection was a tribute to the hard work of the directors and students and support from parents and the community.
“This selection is an exciting honor for West Carteret High School and the entire county,” said Dr. Novey. “West Carteret High School was the only school in the country selected to be a part of this annual event, and the amazing talents of the Marching Patriots will now be seen across the country. This band has a huge support base of parents, community members and businesses, and it is indeed the pride of Morehead City.”
Board of Education Chairman Al Hill, who previously had three of his children in the band program, said, “This is awesome. The band has been working for years for this type of honor.”
Mr. Hill said although the board had cut back on approval of out-of-state school sponsored trips because of the economy, both the board and Dr. Novey endorsed this trip.
“This is a national recognition and they will represent the community to the nation,” he said. “This is above and beyond the norm.”
West Carteret Principal Carolyn Heller said she was proud of the band’s hard work.
“This is such an exciting honor for our school,” she said. “I am so very proud of our marching band directed by Craig Everett and Andy Wright. They are true leaders and scholars in our school. I am so proud to have them represent us in the 2012 Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.”
Mayor Jones, too, said he was proud of the band.
“As a West Carteret alumnus and former band member I’m very proud and very excited for our students,” he said. “This is because of not only the hard work of the students, but band parents and the band directors.”
For more information about Disney Performing Arts, visit www.disneyyouth.com.
Those interested in making donations toward the trip can do so by making checks out to WCHS band and dropping them by the school’s front office or mailing them to West Carteret High School, Attention Craig Everett, 4700 Country Club Road, Morehead City, N.C. 28557.