All 48 students in the Park City High School bands that are in Topsfield, Mass., to perform at the World Strides Heritage Festival this weekend, are safe and accounted for after a shootout that left one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects dead and his brother at large in a nearby area.
In fact, the students didn't arrive in Topsfield, which is 23 miles north of Boston, until a few hours after the incidents, said PCHS director of bands Chris Taylor during a phone call with The Park Record.
"We were 20 minutes into the flight and I noticed the news coming in about the shootout because they streamed it on the flight," Taylor said. "While most of the kids slept, (assistant band director) Bret Hughes and I were up most of the night trying to come up with a contingency plan."
On Friday, the group was supposed to take a guided tour of Boston that included visiting the U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides), and visit the city's North End Historic District, but found everything was shut down due to security, after an MIT security officer was shot and killed by one of the bombing suspects just across the river.
Instead, the group took a detour to Salem, which is north of Boston, so the students could explore the town's various art museums and the Witch museum.
The World Strides Heritage Festival, which is being held at Masconomet Regional High School, hasn't been cancelled, and the Park City bands are scheduled to perform Saturday, Taylor said.
"The school we're going to play at is north of Boston, and the cool thing is that the awards banquet will be at our hotel, so those things will go on as planned," Taylor said. "We will also have a clinic at Gordon College, which is, again, north of Boston, so we'll be good with that too."
The main concern Friday was to find a place to eat dinner.
"We were supposed to go to the Hard Rock Café, but it's closed as well," Taylor said. "Now we're trying to find a new place to go for dinner, because a reservation for 50 is sometimes kind of tricky."
The Park City band isn't the only group in limbo.
"Our hotel is housing more than 900 students from all over the country for the festival," Taylor said. "So, everyone is trying to find something to do.
"Hopefully by Monday, things will have calmed down in the city proper, so we can finally go down and do the things we were scheduled to do today," he said. "We fly back to Park City Tuesday night."
Lynelle Eckels, whose son James is in the Wind and Varsity Jazz ensembles, is also on the trip.
"The main thing is that everyone is fine," she told The Park Record. "All the hotel and airline people have told us that they have seen a lot of high school groups, and they've never seen any as well behaved as our groups."