Tuesday evening, just before sunset, neighbors near West Valley High School were treated to their very own parade.
The school’s marching band and color guard were practicing their parade program. At first, some neighbors just peeked through their curtains. Then, they came out and sat on their porches while the band marched by. Toward the end, neighbors came out and shook band director Jim Loucks’ hand before calling out, “Go West Valley!”
It was the last practice before leaving for Disneyland on Wednesday. Students and parents have been raising funds to help offset the $1,100 each student needed to pay to go on the trip. Loucks said they have participated in car washes, a craft fair, an auction, picking up garbage at Hoopfest, and have recycled clothing to help raise funds.
There are 52 students taking the trip along with 12 parent volunteers. Loucks said some parents are traveling as followers, to support the students during their performances.
They left on a charter bus for their 23-hour drive. After that long trip, they’ll stop at Huntington Beach for a chance to sit on the sand before finding their hotel. They will march in the parade at Disneyland on Friday, playing “Scream and Shout,” the hit from Will.i.am and Britney Spears.
“We like to entertain a lot,” Loucks said.
But it’s not just a trip to Disneyland. The parade is part of the WorldStrides Heritage Music Festival in Anaheim, which will also take place at Fullerton College. The percussion ensemble, wind ensemble, color guard and jazz band will all perform.
“(We’ll get) adjudication from people who have never seen us before,” Loucks said. It will help the students get tips from well-respected judges and offer them a different perspective.
“The judges say things I’ve been saying in class,” he said, but hearing from different people helps hit the message home.
After the performances, they will be treated to an awards ceremony at Disneyland.
Loucks said the first three days are about the business of competing and performing. After that, they get to have some fun.
There is a visit planned to Universal Studios, a bonfire with s’mores on the beach to watch the sunset and a trip to California Adventure.
“Probably 95 percent of the kids have never been to California,” Loucks said. “It’s a trip of a lifetime for these kids.”
“I am so excited,” said Alexis Clardy, 15, a freshman who plays bass clarinet. Before she joined the school band the farthest away from Spokane she had been is Coeur d’Alene. Since then, she’s been to Seattle with the band.
She said she is looking forward to their performances during the trip – she’s hoping the band surprises the judges.
“We’re a small band, everyone counts us out,” she said.