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Storm damage might change band members' trip destination

November 01, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

South Hagerstown High School band members might have to put away the sunscreen and swimwear. If they cannot find a destination untouched by hurricanes, band members' big trip this year will be as close and exotic as one supporter's backyard.

Since hurricanes socked many exotic locales, the band and other vacationers have had to rethink travel plans. The band, which takes a trip far from Hagerstown every few years, probably will not being seeing New Orleans or Cozumel, Mexico - director Katherine Seman's first choices - this year, band supporter Jackie Thompson said.

Both of Seman's first picks were washed out by hurricanes, but the band is not alone. According to area travel agents, bad weather has forced cancellations and changes in other people's travel plans.

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"This has been unreal, totally unreal for our band," said Thompson, who heads a committee to raise money for the trip. She said she is confident the group will travel somewhere, but she joked students might have to set their sights closer to home - her home.

Seman could not be reached for comment Monday.

Mary Anne Recher, leisure manager for Carlson Wagonlit Travel/All About Travel in Hagerstown, said she believes this year's destructive hurricane season might make some people rethink arrangements when they make travel plans next year. Cancun, Mexico, where she was planning to travel next week, still is closed because of damage from Hurricane Wilma, she said.

"I think you're going to see people get into a groove of being afraid to plan their trips," during hurricane season, Recher said. While prices typically are better during hurricane season, Recher said she already has talked to people who are reluctant to visit places they believe might have suffered damage.

"There have been a lot of changes, especially with the last one that just hit because, basically, they just closed Cancun," Recher said.

According to Christopher Abel, an office manager at Paradise Travel and Event Services in Martinsburg, W.Va., the hurricanes have forced travel cancellations and last-minute wedding alterations.

"Having seven states in a disaster situation in the country, I would say it's seriously altered people's travel plans," Abel said.

And, Recher said, some people have expressed reluctance about visiting hurricane-hit areas.

"Some people are saying, 'I don't want to go' ... and you can't blame them for that," she said.

Lindi Baker, who owns Ready-Set-Go Tours & Travel in Hagerstown, said airlines and cruise and tour companies have been cooperative in helping accommodate vacationers stranded by storms. Ten or 12 of Baker's clients were stuck in the Mayan Riviera in a hotel with no power after one hurricane, she said.

Despite the risks, some vacationers always will be up for the adventure of planning their holidays around hurricanes, Baker said.

"We're doing our best not to spoil people's dreams that they've waited all year for," Baker said.

As for the 83 members of South High's band, Thompson said she is planning ways to raise money for the trip. She just is not sure yet where they are headed.

"Now, I've said we'd be better off just taking them to Hersheypark," Thompson said.

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