Drum Corps International
Magic of Orlando weathering challenges

Magic of Orlando weathering challenges

by Drum Corps International

From a Magic of Orlando press release: "The reports of Magic's demise are greatly exaggerated!" -- Paraphrase of a quote by Mark Twain Followers of drum corps news on the Internet are no doubt puzzled by the recent flurry of rumor and speculation regarding Magic of Orlando. Most of the postings tend to question Magic's organizational and financial stability. After reading many of the messages in groups such as RAMD and other message boards, it would be easy to believe that Magic has "folded" and is homeward bound to the beaches of Florida. "Nothing could be farther from the truth!" proclaimed executive director Dennis Capello. Magic board president Tim Heberling agreed, adding, "There are absolutely no plans to depart the tour early and return to Orlando." Capello admits that Magic has faced some difficult and serious challenges, both financially and mechanically during this tour. "It's been a rocky road," he says, "but we've got an unbelievable instructional and management staff, and some of the best volunteers in drum corps." He continued, "In the last couple of months, we've all see some extraordinarily unselfish people (both on the road and back home) step up to do whatever it takes to keep the corps going. With a support team like this, Magic can't possibly fail." However, Magic is now facing its most serious challenge of the tour. Over the July 4 weekend, the kitchen trailer sustained damage (not accident related) that has rendered it temporarily unusable. Fortunately, the well-being of the corps members and staff is not at risk. "The staff and volunteers are doing a great job of ensuring that the kids get fed," explained Capello. "We're also grateful to the Cavaliers and Spirit who have pitched in and lent us a helping hand." Getting the kitchen trailer back online and on the road, however, is turning out to be a daunting task. "Finding a vendor along the tour to make the necessary repairs with a quick turn-around is nearly impossible," said Capello. "Even worse, the estimates I've received suggest that the costs could run as high as five figures!" He continued, "Like most other corps, we're already on a very tight budget. This certainly doesn't help our situation." "It's no secret that money is tight right now," said Heberling. "In all the years I've been associated with Magic, the summer tour always drains our financial reserves, that's to be expected. I can't imagine there's a corps on the road right now that's NOT watching their budget very closely." Heberling explained some of the unforeseen financial difficulties that Magic has faced. "We've had some setbacks this year that have seriously strained our resources." He cited a delay in opening the corps' bingo hall and higher-than-anticipated transportation costs as primary causes of Magic's budgetary troubles. Magic's bingo operation has been plagued with numerous disappointing legal delays. "Florida law seems much more restrictive to charitable gaming than many other states," said Heberling. "When we planned the budget for this season, we were on target for a March grand opening. We fully expected that the bingo hall would be online now and thus subsidizing the summer tour." Currently, the hall is scheduled to open in late summer -- much too late to benefit this season's tour. In tours past, Magic provided for its transportation needs by leasing and operating motor coaches. But a new law in Florida, and four other states, effectively puts the brakes on that practice. "In the past, we arranged a short, three-month lease from a local broker and operated the buses under our insurance certificate," Heberling explained. "This new law regards any lease under one year a RENTAL, not a lease. Consequently, insurance obligations revert to the vehicle owner instead of the renter." Attempts to work out leasing arrangements that were both affordable and compliant with this new law were unsuccessful. As a result, Magic was forced to charter buses and drivers for the entire tour -- a much more expensive option. "The kids and staff continue working very hard to hone the show," says Capello. "Our scores continue to improve and some of our individual captions are doing quite well. Like any championship team, we will continue to make adjustments to help improve our performance. You may see some new faces on the tour and even some changes to the show." Capello added, "Magic is currently in that 'mass-in-the-middle' where a tenth of a point can mean a big difference in overall placement." Capello concluded, "The safety of the kids is our first priority -- we'll do whatever it takes to keep them safe and meet their needs. Every one of these kids has the heart of a champion and PURPLE in their veins! Most of all, Magic is about PERSEVERANCE. This corps has been through too much and come too far these last few years to let anything slow us down!"

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