‘Little blue band’ makes its mark at Disney: Elmwood group travels to Florida

BLOOMDALE – The “little blue band” from Elmwood High School made its mark at Walt Disney World.

Band Director Megan Hayes gave a report of the June trip to Orlando, Florida, at the Oct. 10 board of education meeting.

“This trip was a lifetime coming,” Hayes said.

The trip had originally been planned to leave April 1, 2020, but that didn’t happen due to the pandemic.

But the delay was a blessing in that it allowed them to go this year, which is Disney World’s 50th anniversary, Hayes said.

Fifty students took the trip, and spent a day at Universal Studios, also in Orlando. It was a band favorite with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the VelociCoaster; EPCOT, where students were able to visit different countries and ride the newly opened Guardian of the Galaxy ride; and the Magic Kingdom.

The final day at the park was spent at Hollywood Studios, and on the way home Hayes said she had to tell students to turn off the light sabers they got at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

“There’s nothing more magical that marching down Main Street USA and playing in front of the castle,” Hayes said.

She said the band prepared for months for the parade.

Hayes said she had to drag the students, moaning and groaning, out of EPCOT for the band clinic. But once their time learning tips and new music was over, they didn’t want to leave, she said.

Students learned the music to the culminating scene from “Frozen,” and Hayes played a video of the final scenes in the movie with the Elmwood band playing the score.

“We had a lot of really positive experiences,” she said. “We built a lot of positive relationships.”

Hayes said her students were known as “the little blue band” in the park.

Student Isaiah Combs said he absolutely did not want to go on the trip because of the long bus ride.

However, it turned out to be a once in a lifetime opportunity, Combs said.

He said the trip gave him the opportunity to get to know band members he might not have been friends with at school.

Hayes said the trip cost approximately $1,100 per student, and the music boosters paid for half.

“You did a wonderful job,” said board President Debbie Reynolds. “We’ve seen a real change in the band, the attitude.”

Hayes said she is planning a three-day trip next year and another Disney trip in 2026.