DUBLIN, Ireland — The day that the Fort Mill High School band worked for and dreamed about for nearly 15 months started miserably Sunday.
But the people and the city of Dublin helped turn the day around.
The band performed in the Irish capitals annual St. Patricks Day parade before a crowd estimated at more than 500,000. People lined up to six deep to watch performers from all over the world honor Irelands patron saint.
Fort Mills performance was the culmination of nearly 15 months of work raising money and planning a trip for more than 150 students. But when the day started with snow showers, some of the students may have wondered if it was such a good idea. They then had to wait outside in the snow and in temperatures in the 30s for more than 2.5 hours before the parade began.
Sophomore Mary Capps said the weather was so cold, she and fellow members of the color guard couldnt feel our feet.
But once the parade kicked off just after noon, the cold was an afterthought. The crowd, which seemed delighted by every performer, impressed the band.
The temperature started to warm up before the parade began and once it started it was fantastic, Fort Mill band director John Pruitt said. The students warmed up. They really didnt notice the cold anymore. We had a great time.
Capps said band members were tired but it was just fun seeing everybody people looking at us and saying, You guys were so great, Capps said.
The band performed a medley of songs that included some old Irish favorites, including Danny Boy. With school colors of blue and gold, band members adapted to the day by wearing green berets.
The audience here is exceptional, Pruitt said. They love a band. . . . They cheer for the performances.
Members of the crowd high-fived performers throughout the parade. When they saw the Fort Mill High School band banner, many in the audience cheered on South Carolina and the United States, Pruitt said.
Some sang along to Danny Boy.
Junior Brianna Saunders said the parade was fantastic because of just the sheer amount of people and all the excitement and spirit. Everyone is getting out and being happy for Ireland.
The parade route took the band past some of Dublins most iconic structures, including Trinity College, Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patricks Cathedral. Trinity College was created in 1592; Christ Church Cathedral was founded around 1030; and the current St. Patricks Cathedral structure dates to 1220.
The band, which left Fort Mill Wednesday, spent the first three days of its trip touring the western and central sections of Ireland. Among the stops was Blarney Castle, which dates to 1446 and holds the famous Blarney Stone. Band members also ate a medieval banquet.
For freshman Manning Shaw, the best part of the trip has been exploring all the castles . . . And seeing the landscape and how it changes from the east side of the island to the west side
On Monday, band members will visit Trinity College and the Book of Kells along with St. Patricks Cathedral. The band heads home on Tuesday.
While the band has enjoyed other parts of the visit, Pruitt said the trips high point was the parade and performing in front of 500,000.
The people in Dublin were looking forward to a great time and they showed us a great welcome.