The group left for the windy city on Wednesday, June 28, and returned to Paynesville on Sunday, July 2.
"It was just great," said chaperone Barb Werlinger (pictured at left riding a carousel with her daughter Becca). "I think it was just the right length. The kids were good, they had a good time, and they saw lots."
Sixty-three students rode buses all day on Wednesday, accompanied by directors Bryan Mara and Ken Vork and seven parental chaperones. The parents were: Gretchen Vork, Brenda Whitcomb, Barb Werlinger, Doreen Kern, Laurie Meagher, Jan Zumwalde, and Ron Brossard.
The band arrived in Chicago Wednesday evening. They went to Woodfield Mall and swam in the pool at their hotel that night.
The next day they saw the Shedd Aquarium, watched the Twins beat the White Sox in baseball, and ate at Ed Debevic's, a restaurant that specializes in being rude to their customers.
"At the aquarium, we saw a dolphin show, which was neat," said Melissa Andrie.
They also saw the outside of the United Center, where the Chicago Bulls play. "My favorite thing was seeing the Jordan statue outside of the United Center," said Casey Kavanagh.
On Friday, they went to the Field Museum. The new display of the tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is there. There were also exhibits on other animals and cultures.
Next, they went to the Museum of Science and Industry, where there were exhibits on Michael Jordan and the Titanic. The museum also had rows of old cars, trains, a 747 airplane, and a replica coal mine in the basement.
"They have so much stuff. You could spend a whole day in one of those museums instead of just a couple hours," said Mara.
Later, the group watched the close of trading at the commodities market.
At dusk, they went to the top of the Sears Tower. "It was quite beautiful," said Mara. "I had forgotten how neat it is. We watched all the lights go on across the city. It's like looking at a map."
The students agreed. Amanda Mayer said, "The Sears Tower was my favorite because it looked really cool with the whole city lit up."
Kavanagh said, "I thought the Sears tower was pretty cool. When you look out at the city, it makes you realize how big the world is."
The band spent Saturday at Six Flags Great America. The final stop was at Wisconsin Dells on the way home on Sunday.
"My favorite part was the scenery of Lake Michigan and the diversity of Chicago," said Jon Schefers.
"We did some dabbling in Chicago. Hopefully, the kids will want to go back," said Werlinger. "We saw both the fun and the educational parts.
"We saw the pace of Chicago life," she continued. "It's a lot different from New York. They really try to beautify the city with greenery and potted plants in the streets."
Upon returning, the band marched a final time in a parade in St. Joseph on the Fourth of July.
"I don't think the season could have gone any better," said Mara. "It surpassed any of my expectations."
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