East Providence High School band plays Disney World

East Providence High School band plays Disney World

The East Providence High School band marches during a night performance at Disney World.

FLORIDA — “The Magic Kingdom and Disney Performing Arts are proud to present the Dighton-Rehoboth Falcon Marching Band from North Dighton, Massachusetts and the East Providence Townie Marching Band from East Providence, Rhode Island.”

On June 27 and 28, the East Providence High School marching band performed alongside the Dighton-Rehoboth High School band in two parades at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.band main street

Around 140 students, including 65 from E.P., marched in the Main Street Electrical Parade in the Magic Kingdom on the Friday evening and again in the Festival of Fantasy Parade the following afternoon.band main street

E.P. band director Marisa Martinez was invited to take part in the performance by Doug Kelley, director of the D-R band. Mr. Kelley proposed having a band with over a hundred pieces marching down Main Street in April of last year and the E.P. students got to work raising funds for the trip.

In addition to a pasta dinner held in September, the band sold gift cards, macaroni and cookies to raise a total of around $15,000. Each E.P. student received about $250 to offset their Disney costs, which covered travel, park tickets and some meals.

Following their performances, the bands spent three days visiting the four Disney theme parks and the Blizzard Beach water park, plus a day at the two theme parks at the Universal Orlando Resort. During their morning at Blizzard Beach, the E.P. students managed to break the record for the largest chain of people floating down the “lazy river” around the perimeter of the park.

“We had a lot of E.P. people and some of our E.P. kids were just asking people, ‘Hey, want to help us break this record?’” Ms. Martinez said. “So we counted off and we ended up at 55.”disney castle

Around 35 E.P. students comprised the bulk of that chain, beating the previous record of 45.

“That was pretty fun,” Ms. Martinez said. “I was part of it. I was in the middle.”disney castle

Alex Dias, one of seven recent E.P. graduates invited to join the current students on the trip, described the awe of performing before the Disney World crowds.

“Walking down Main Street with 80,000 people lined all the way up to Cinderella’s Castle is a memory I will cherish forever,” he said.

As the first trip the E.P. band has taken to Disney since 2007, Ms. Martinez said the performance went well.

“They had a great experience marching down Main Street, which is not something you get to do every day,” she said. “Even though I wasn’t performing, for me, it’s a really amazing experience to see that happen. So I know the kids had a great time.”

Ms. Martinez envisions similar trips in the future, likely every two years.

“I do want to take the band other places,” she said. “There are so many options on this side of the country.”

In addition to returning to Disney, Ms. Martinez mentioned Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia as possible destinations.  “There are so many places that we can go where not only will the kids be able to perform but maybe get some history, have a good time at a park or something like that,” she said.

To show their gratitude for her part in planning the trip, the E.P. students pitched in money to buy Ms. Martinez a massage package. They also purchased her a Disney autograph book and filled it with their own signatures.

The band director expressed pride in her students.

“They did a great job,” she said. “They just represented Rhode Island and East Providence in the best way possible.”

— By Joseph D’Amico, eastbayri.com intern