Cheerleaders perform in the Magic Kingdom


Jaime Yaukey, Reporter

Last Thursday, four senior cheerleaders from Big Spring traveled to Orlando, Florida to participate in the Varsity Spirit Spectacular, a Christmas cheer parade at Magic Kingdom with over 800 representatives from all 50 states.

Morgan Barr, Sarah Hood, Caitlyn Kerver, Alexis Peck, Coach Cecilia Zukauckas and Shawna Barr were the six Big Spring representatives who went to Florida for the Varsity Spirit Spectacular. They went to the UCA camp in the Poconos and got 3 bids to go to Florida- so the next step was to decide who would be attending the event. The Big Spring team was asked to unanimously vote for three cheerleaders who they thought represented the team the most and had the best leadership skills. Kerver, Hood, and Peck were all chosen by the team, however Barr had the opportunity to go because she was a 2016 All-American but couldn’t go to London. Therefore, Varsity Spirit gave her the opportunity to go to Disney instead.

There are other representatives from Florida, but other than Chambersburg, there are no other local school representatives. “The amount of representatives from each state depends on the size of the state- there’s only about twenty from Pennsylvania,” Morgan Barr said. “It also depends how many are on the squad, how many attend the camp, how many bids they get, stuff like that.” The girls said that, for example, there were a ton of cheerleaders from Texas and California, but not very many from Hawaii.

The six went to Florida for five days, and all of the days have been filled with nothing less than adventures for them. On the first day, they had cheer registration and uniform check to make sure the uniforms fit, then a routine preview and practice in front of the judges to figure out where they’d be placed in the parade. All the cheerleaders were split into two groups, each made up of about 300-400 cheerleaders with 2-3 boys on each team: Team Mickey that performed on Friday, and team Minnie that performed on Saturday. The four Big Spring girls were placed on Team Minnie.

They had a few hours off for dinner and orientation, but were back practicing after that for five hours. All the girls agreed that the five hour practice was their least favorite part. “We were very tired and we only had a collective 2 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours.” Peck said. “It was hard, trying to get through the whole practice when we knew everything.” After the five hour practice, there was a show for the parents.

The second day was a bit more relaxed. In the morning, the cheerleaders had a two hour practice in the morning, but went to the Animal Kingdom after that- and after staying at Animal Kingdom for a few hours, they went to Epcot, and while they looked around the different countries, Barr and Hood had to complete an AP History scavenger hunt.

The third day was the big day: the Magic Kingdom parade. The first thing they did was check in, and then they went through the gate behind the Pirates of the Caribbean ride to get to Back Stage Disney, which is where anyone that performs at Disney warms up and gets ready. The 400 and counting cheerleaders practiced their routine a few times more before the parade. Then the parade took place- they circled around the castle and walked down main street. “Getting to cheer in the parade was my favorite part,” Kerver said, “During parts of the parade, we would stop and we would compliment some of the people watching- like we would tell little girls we liked their outfits, and it was so cool to watch how excited they got.”

For the remainder of the day, they stayed at Magic Kingdom, taking many pictures in front of the castle, with characters, and exploring, later watching the fireworks. “After the parade, many younger girls would ask for pictures. A lot of parents were complimenting us for how we did, and they clapped for us when we did stunts in front of the castle for pictures. It was just like a completely different world. Everyone was congratulating us and they seemed so appreciative of what we do. It was cool to see how much people actually enjoy the sport. We often get compliments at Big Spring too, but it was just so much different.” Kerver said.

The fourth day started off with a character breakfast. Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Stitch, Cinderella and Belle were all there for the cheerleaders to get pictures with. The closing ceremony followed, and all the cheerleaders were split back into their two teams, Team Mickey and Team Minnie. Both videotaped performances were showed, and then a slideshow of pictures. The final day, the girls are going shopping at Disney Springs before going on the plane to return back to Pennsylvania.

All the girls agreed that the trip taught them some kind of lesson. “Seeing how much we impacted the little girls and how much they looked up to us was just so sweet.” Hood said. “One time some girls walked by, and were getting all happy about us cheerleaders. It was teaching us how to be good role models.” Kerver thought that it taught them how to be a leader. “It was a good eye opener to show what a leader is like because you had to show it here- it was what being a team leader is all about.”

Hood said their favorite parts of this trip included the parade, but it was also getting to share this experience with each other.  Coach Cecilia Zukauckas said, “It was awesome to see Big Spring High School represented in the huge group of girls.”

Barr said that their next adventure is to go to children’s hospitals, such as Hershey’s. “We want to fundraise to get toys for the children and raise money and awareness,” Barr said. “We plan to go visit the children in the hospitals, also buy them pillows, toys, stuffed animals, blankets- stuff like that for Christmas to brighten their days. “We don’t have it entirely decided yet, but we want everyone to know what we have decided for the future.”