I was just this side of nervous, standing with my wife, Gina, and many other band parents, as we waited for my daughter’s high school marching band to parade down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.
It was a beautiful day, as if drawn specially by Walt Disney’s artists. The sky blue sky. White clouds with underbellies of silver and gray. Warm, but not hot. Sunny, but not scorching.
Two bands preceded ours. And then here came Warren. Over 220 members of the full band had made the trip. After being announced, they rounded the hub in front of Cinderella’s castle and the first thing we saw was their banner, billowing in royal blue and old gold. Then the spinning flags. Red, white and blue, to match their song, “Anchors Aweigh.”
My daughter’s in the color guard so those flags are always special to me.
Then the musicians, instruments glinting, snare drums quick and bass drums thumping, heads held high and proud, their music bouncing off the buildings. Then more of the color guard, including my daughter.
It’s cliché to say my chest nearly burst with pride when I saw her. But it’s also true.
And when I did see her, I immediately thought back to how my wife and I had brought our kids to Disney World almost every year since they were small. Of how my daughter, so little then, had grown into such an amazing young lady. Of how it also all fit together with my wife’s and my passion for Disney that we’ve shared throughout our marriage.
Then, finally, I remembered that the only reason Disney World exists in the first place is because, many years ago, Walt was looking for things to do with his young daughters on the weekend, having run out of fun activities. So, as he sat on a bench in Griffith Park near his California home, watching his daughters ride the carousel there, he imagined a place where families could have fun together.
That vision became Disneyland, then Disney World – though he didn’t live long enough to see his Florida park actually open.
All of those memories washed over me as my daughter and the Warren band marched by.
Thank you, Warren.
Thank you, Walt.
They say Walt Disney World is the most magical place on Earth.
Now, more than ever, I know why.
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