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Mt. Pleasant Area band performs at Disney World

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The Mt. Pleasant Area Tower of Power marching band passes the Magic Kingdom Castle at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., while performing there. Photo taken in March 2013
Mt. Pleasant Area Tower of Power band members (from left) Mike Sarnelli, Gavin Zimmerman, Natalie Cope, Ian Hoover and Joshua Kinneer stop near Epcot Center at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Photo taken in March 2013.

Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School band director Fred Collins recently made his 12th trek to Disney World in Orlando with 62 members of the Vikings Tower of Power Band.

The band performs at Disney World every two years, which gives each member the opportunity to experience it at least once, Collins said.

Members of the band practiced the musical portion of their performance indoors, however, they managed to rehearse for the parade outside during milder weather several times, Collins said.

The band performed the patriotic number “American Fantasy” during one parade on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disney's Magic Kingdom.

The song was so well-received by another high school band from Illinois, Collins said, he agreed to send the director a copy of the music.

There are many benefits for the students to experience the trip, Collins said.

“First and foremost is the chance to represent our school and community in the parade performing in front of a large audience from all over the world,” he said.

Collins also said the educational opportunities at Epcot, which features backgrounds on various countries, scientific displays and activities, as well as seeing the movie-making at Universal Studios, benefit the students.

Learning how to budget time and money while being away from their parents was also another valuable lesson, Collins said.

When they were not performing, band members also visited Disney's Hollywood Studios, Universal's Island of Adventure and the Magic Kingdom.

In addition to the organized visits, students were permitted to explore the park in groups and check in with 21 attending chaperones at designated times and places throughout the park.

They met at the end of the day to travel back to the All-Star Sports Resort, where they were staying as a group.

Learning to explore and find things is such an important tool in education, Collins said.

Natalie Cope, 18, a senior at the school, said she was thrilled to be given the opportunity to make the trip a second time.

She added she was very nervous when she traveled with the band to Disney World as an eighth-grade student.

“This time, I just really enjoyed and savored the moment,” Cope said.

“It is an amazing feeling to march down Main Street, U.S.A., see all the little kids in the Disney costumes and hear them cheering for the band.”

Another highlight, Cope said, was seeing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, where she said it seemed like she was walking through the books.

“The highlight of the trip was marching down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and spending time with friends,” said Brittany Struble, 14, a freshman at the school.

The trip was financed by several fundraisers conducted by band members.

Kelly Vernon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-547-5722 or