Marching Knights perform in Florida

Posted: May 1, 2012

Parent Mike Heatwole was given the honor of leading the Turner Ashby Marching Knights through the streets of Universal Studios in early April. After eight years of volunteering, Heatwole’s unofficial title is “Pit Boss” of the percussion section. His youngest daughter Michelle, a guard section leader, is a senior. (Photo by Jody Shifflett)

ORLANDO, FL — Marching in 80 degree weather in wool uniforms may not sound the life, but the Turner Ashby High School Marching Knights made the best of their trip to Orlando. Fortunately their one-mile march through Universal Studios—while playing selections from their 2011-2012 show “Celtic Legends”— only lasted 18 minutes.

The Marching Knights left for Florida  April 11. They traveled 14 hours by bus to Universal Studios to participate in the Universal STARS Performance Program.

The program gives high school performing groups the opportunity to perform through the streets of the world-renowned theme park. Performances take place from February through April.  The application process required to perform at Universal Studios includes submitting a video of the music group, as well as photos of the uniforms, said Turner Ashby band director Rob Nash.

During his 16-year tenure with the school’s program, Nash has led the marching band to Florida four times. This is the first year the band has played at Universal Studios. The previous three times they performed in Disney World. 

As is customary with every parade, Nash walked alongside his group of 41 performers. He said he was amazed by how well they did on the one-mile march through the theme park.

“It went very smoothly and the band produced an incredible sound. It was probably one of the best times they have ever performed the music,” Nash said.

“Other than the fact that it was hot and we were wearing wool uniforms, it was a great experience,” said senior drum major Zach Jones, “and a memorable one to be able to conduct the band in front of an audience who has never even heard of us.” 
For Jones and seven other seniors, the performance was their last time together with the marching band.

“I’ve had an awesome time being in marching band, and getting to end it with a parade in Universal Studios just topped it off,” said senior brass section leader Jamal Bowman. 

“I want to make sure the students have the opportunity to perform in a completely different place than what they are used to and make that experience one they will remember for the rest of their lives,” said Nash. 

The trip also included visiting SeaWorld and Islands of Adventure creating memories that will last a lifetime.  Every student will have the chance to march once in Universal Studios and once in Disney World before they graduate.  In the future, Nash plans to incorporate Universal Studios into his annual trip rotation which has previously included New York City.

Cullen Byers, a senior at Turner Ashby High School and a member of the Marching Knights, is a mentorship student with the Journals.


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