PHS Band

PHOTO BY JEFF GOLDBERG

PENNSBURY >> Instead of traveling to China this spring, the Pennsbury High School Marching and Jazz Bands may be spending April in Paris.

The coronavirus outbreak in China has forced trip organizers here to propose shifting its spring performance trip scheduled for early April from Beijing and Shanghai, China, to Paris and Normandy, France.

The change in destinations will require school board approval prior to its next public meeting on Feb. 20 to lock in travel arrangements.

“It’s very unfortunate, to say the least, with what has happened in China,” Marching Band director Frank Mazzeo told the school board on Thursday. “And I want everyone to know that the safety of the kids and parents are number one and we would never put anyone in harm’s way.”

Given the travel bans, advisories and cancelled flights in and out of China brought about by the virus, Mazzeo said they had to scramble for the last week and a half to transfer the trip from China to France for the 140 students, 20 chaperones and faculty members and 68 companions slated to take the trip.

“We are proposing a cost neutral alternative to visit Paris instead of Shanghai,” Mazzeo told the board. “Band members will have the opportunity to take the trip to Paris with no loss of funds. We’re at the beginning stages of this. We’re proceeding with it, but we continue to gather information.”

According to Mazzeo, there’s about a $15 difference between the two trips.

When asked why the cost is comparable to China, which is located much further away, Mazzeo said it’s because the band would be traveling to Paris in the month of April, the heaviest traveled month of the year in France.

Mazzeo said in order to maintain a cost neutral situation, they will need to make a deposit with its travel company before the next board action meeting. “This will allow us to secure current airfare where we can pretty much maintain a parallel trip,” said Mazzeo.

“While it is disappointing that we cannot visit China, we are putting together an itinerary that includes four major events,” said Mazzeo, including a performance at Disneyland, Paris, a performance at the Normandy American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, a performance at a local university with French high school students and “we’re working on a standstill performance at the Eiffel Tower.”

The renowned Pennsbury Marching Band, nicknamed “the Long Orange Line,” has performed on five continents including Australia, Europe, South America and Asia, and has appeared in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, and has marched in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade for nearly three decades.

The band earned its second nickname as the “Mickey Mouse Band” in 2008 after becoming the only band in the world to travel to and perform in all five Disney parks - Tokyo (1988), Paris (1992), Hong Kong (2008), Orlando, Florida and California.

On this year’s China trip, the Band was scheduled to become the first American Band to march through the recently opened Disney Park in Shanghai. That will now have to wait for another time.

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