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Paynesville Press - July 11, 2001

Marching band tours California

By Michael Jacobson

Whale at Sea World Following the conclusion of their two-week marching season, 45 members of the Paynesville Area Marching Band took a ten-day bus trip to southern California.

The band along with seven chaperones left by charter bus on Sunday, June 24, hours after returning from their final parade in Alexandria, and returned late in the night on Tuesday, July 2.

The marching band trip started with a couple days in San Diego, where the group of 50 saw the killer whale show at Sea World.

After driving 32 hours to the coast, the group started with a day at the beach and a day at Sea World in San Diego, and then moved north to Los Angeles. They spent a day at Disneyland, a day on Catalina Island, a day at Universal Studios, and a day at Newport Beach before going to Las Vegas, squeezing in a visit to the Hoover Dam and heading home.

In L.A., the band members started with a long day at Disneyland in Anaheim, getting to the park by 9 a.m. and staying for the fireworks show at 10 p.m. "Disneyland was a lot of fun," said Ann Stalboerger, a junior at Paynesville Area High School next fall, "but we were there all day, so it got a bit tiring."

Other band members found some diversions at the park. Cody Wiig and Ryan Whitcomb played hacky sack with all the Disney characters they could find, and Adam Rafferty, Milan Virant, and Tony Spates got their picture taken with celebrity publisher Hugh Hefner.

The trip to Catalina Island on Friday involved a 26-mile ferry ride. The group also went on a glass-bottomed boat ride in a national park before the students had free time to snorkle, swim, lay on the beach, shop, or sight see.

Director Bryan Mara said this was his favorite day on the trip. "I really loved Catalina," he said. "The scenery was incredible."

One of the sets the band members saw at Universal Studios was the house from Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror movie, "Psycho." "That was kind of neat," said Mara, "because we had just played the theme music at our concert, and they had that playing."

A favorite for the band members were the days at the beach. "I had never seen the ocean before, so it was weird not to see the other side like you do with lakes," said Ryan Whitcomb, a senior-to-be. "Plus you float more than usual."

"I'd been there once before," said Milan Virant, a junior-to-be, of the Pacific Ocean, "but it was way cooler with my friends."

Walking in the surf A face-first body surfing landing at Newport Beach might have scratched Bobby O'Fallon's face, but didn't dampen his enthusiasm for the beach. The soon-to-be sophomore thought the beach was relaxing and fun.

Erin O'Fallon walks along the Newport Beach while other play in the surf.

At the beach, the students had unstructured time, where they could choose to swim, body surf, boogie board, sunbathe, rent bikes, walk, or shop. "It was nice because we had a lot of time to relax and do stuff on our own," said Stalboerger.

Milan and Jessie Virant preferred this year's trip because of the free time, instead of the busy museum schedule of a year ago in Chicago.

The students were very responsible, consistently being on time at meeting places, said Mara and chaperone Brenda Whitcomb. Other chaperones on the trip were Sandy Fenske, drum line director Jeremy Schreifels, Sandy Spanier, assistant director Ken Vork, and Janice Zumwalde.

The trip is meant to be a reward for the students following the marching season. It made every minute of spat camp the band's preseason drills worth it, according to Stalboerger.

"I thought it was just what we needed," said Ryan Whitcomb.

The band arrived in Las Vegas at dark and drove through the strip to see the lights of the hotels and casinos. "Just after dark it was still over 100 degrees in Las Vegas," said Mara.

The band members headed straight to the pool that night and then to the Hoover Dam on Monday, July 2. The band headed back to Las Vegas to drop off their tour guide before heading to Minnesota when the alternator went out on the bus, necessitating a six-hour delay, which the group spent at Circus Circus. This hotel had an indoor amusement park and, more importantly, air conditioning.

This delay caused the band to arrive back in Paynesville on Tuesday, July 3, later than originally planned. "I had a blast," said Brenda Whitcomb. Everything was great. The kids were good. We didn't have any problems, except the bus ride home."

"I've gone on all the band trips and I think this was the best one," said Erin O'Fallon, a recent PAHS graduate.

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