Saturday, November 12, 2011

Veterans Day at Disneyland

The Commodores are currently on a three-week tour of the West Coast. For more information, visit our website.

Happy Veterans Day! As I began the morning with a walk to the historic Santa Monica Pier, I headed north along a bike trail just west of the Pacific Coast Highway. The weather was perfect for a long run, and I was moved by the beautiful views of the beaches, the gorgeous homes up in the hills along the coastline, and the calm, serene Pacific Ocean. I have spent most of my life along the East Coast, so the experience of jogging along the beach in the morning without a sunrise was unique for me. It was a setting I will not soon forget.

We headed to Anaheim, Calif., at noon to unravel the logistics of performing at Disneyland. As a renowned all-inclusive experience, Disneyland provided the outdoor stage, all of the necessary sound reinforcement, a stage crew to manage all of the gear, and a fantastic host/stage manager named Eddie Contreras. The good folks at Disneyland went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Our sponsor, Ms. Ann Holbrook, graciously provided park hopper tickets for everyone, and we had about three hours to enjoy the sights, sounds, and park attractions before setting up for the performance.

The concert went off without a hitch. Carnation Plaza, just off historic Main Street in Disneyland Park, was a perfect setting. There were plenty of chairs for folks to sit and listen, and there was a good amount of people who paused to take in a song or two before heading to the many attractions.

Afterward, Mr. Contreras provide us with VIP seating for a spectacular fireworks display. We were seated with other veterans and I briefly spoke with a retired Sailor who had been stationed aboard a frigate during the Vietnam War. After loading all of the gear back in our bus and equipment truck, Mr. Contreras offered to host a VIP tour of some of the park’s most popular rides and attractions. Seven of us took full advantage. Mr. Contreras was able to secure front of line privileges and went out of his way to make our Disneyland experience worthwhile.

Tomorrow, we look forward to continuing our journey to Hemet, Calif., where we will perform in the hometown of our trombonist, Musician 1st Class Jennifer Krupa.

Chief Musician Rob Holmes plays baritone saxophone in the Commodores.

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