Live Oak High School band director Brian Feigles calls an early March trip to compete in the Festival Disney “an experience to remember.”

After a year of fundraising, rehearsals and coordination, the school’s concert band and color guard loaded 70 students, 30 chaperones, instruments, uniforms, costumes, competition rifles and more than 25 flags into charter buses for the trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

It was the group’s first time competing in the music festival, color guard instructor Delanea Gates said.

“This was an extremely competitive event with great band and auxiliary units from around the country,” Gates said. “It was a huge trip for us.”

The groups were rewarded for their efforts.

The concert band earned an excellent rating and finished in second place in its class, while the color guard team won an excellent rating and finished in third place, Feigles said.

“We knew Festival Disney was going to be an extremely difficult competition, and I was pleased to witness the students rise to the occasion,” he said. “They took advantage of the opportunity and were fantastic representatives of Live Oak High School and the community of Watson.”

The color guard’s competition performance was based on the final performance in the movie “Pitch Perfect,” which tells the story of the Barden Bellas, an all-female a cappella group, competing in a national event.

Gates said the color guard wore outfits similar to those worn by the singers in the movie, including paisley scarves.

“I know it had to be a thrill for the students to compete at Walt Disney World, but the standing ovation from the crowd at the end of our performance was truly magical,” she said.

The band performed “Flourish for Wind Band” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, “English Country Settings” by Pierre LaPlante and “Mandjiani” by William Harbinson.

The three-day competition, March 6-9, included about 50 different ensembles from around the nation performing in one of six venues across Walt Disney World. Live Oak High School competed in the concert band and indoor guard categories.

The concert band performed in the Disney Hollywood Studios Superstar Television Theater, former home to the American Idol Experience, and the color guard performed in the Disney Hollywood Studios Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Theater.

The students didn’t have much time to celebrate, as both units had to prepare for season-ending performances.

The color guard concluded its season with a March 14 performance at the Marching Auxiliary Gulf Coast Regional competition in Metairie. The squad won superior ratings, best in class and best in choreography, and also took home the overall Winner’s Circle Cup over all of the auxiliary divisions, Gates said.

The band has been preparing for the Louisiana Music Educators Association District IV Large Ensemble Assessment competition Thursday, March 26, in Baton Rouge.

In addition to competition season, the band and color guard performed at 10 home and away regular season varsity football games, at in-school pep rallies and at some basketball games, and the band will play at the school’s graduation ceremony.

They bring the music to several events, including Christmas and Mardi Gras parades and community events.

“The Disney trip was an experience they will remember for a lifetime,” Gates said.