A series of unfortunate plane delays grounded the Hampton Bays marching band’s planned stroll down “Main Street USA” at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom this past Friday.
According to Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen, the 82 students—who were originally slated to perform in February but had to reschedule for Friday because of snow—were booked on two different flights leaving from LaGuardia Airport in Queens last Thursday night, April 6, and within one hour of each other. The second flight that was supposed to transport 36 of the students had to be canceled by Delta Airlines because of the lack of a flight crew.
The district worked all night with the airline to try and find another solution but was unable to come up with a way to transport the three dozen students to Orlando in time from any other New York airport.
“Due to a tremendous amount of travel challenges, the second plane of high school music students will return to Hampton Bays later this morning,” the district posted on its Facebook page on Friday morning. “No flights or charters are available from Albany to Baltimore with any city in Florida. Outlandish possibilities would only compromise the safety and well-being of students, therefore a motor coach will arrive home between 12 and 1 p.m. today.”
While it is disappointing for the three dozen students stuck in New York, the 46 band members who did make it down to Florida on the earlier flight Thursday night made the best of the situation, Mr. Clemensen said. But because they are missing so many marching band members, including the entire drum line, students were forced to cancel their performance.
“We are very disappointed,” said Drew Walker, the district’s director of health, physical education and athletics, after stepping off the bus following its return to the school on Friday. “The kids were looking forward to this great, unique experience to walk down Main Street, so I feel for the kids and teachers who put their heart into this magic moment.”
Unlike the first cancellation caused by the weather, Mr. Walker, who was supposed to make the trip as well, explained that it would be difficult to reschedule the trip a second time because more than half the students are unable to get refunds as they were able to make the trip.
The 46 students who made it to Florida, and returned home late Monday night, were able to meet with representatives of the Disney Internship Program do discuss future opportunities and also were introduced to members of the Disney World performing arts team. Students also had the chance to spend time at Disney’s signature parks over the weekend.
“They are talking to the internship program to learn about it and then they are going to the park, so I don’t think they will have a terrible time,” Mr. Clemensen said on Friday. “We did speak to some of the kids and they are disappointed their friends won’t be with them to enjoy the trip and perform.”