It's not every day that 66 teenagers file off of an airplane chanting, "Utah! Utah! Utah!"
But then it's not every day that high school students from Massachusetts get the opportunity to visit the "Greatest Snow on Earth" - the culmination of months of hard work and anxiety."They tell us it's heaven out here," said an excited Natalia Davis, 17. "Everyone couldn't wait to get out here to the real snow."
Thanks largely to the support of local businesses, students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge, Mass., are fulfilling a dream in Utah. For several months they sold balloons, sausages, candy, juice, spaghetti and anything else they could think of that would earn them a few dollars.
The payoff came Tuesday in the form of a giant ski trip for those students who worked the hardest and earned the most.
"For a lot of these kids, there's no way that they would ever be able to go on a trip like this," said John Daley, a history teacher and chaperone. But with generous support from local businesses providing lodging, ski passes, meals and transportation, the students could afford to make their dreams come true. Almost $15,000 in goods and services have been donated, he said.
"I don't think I could have paid for this myself," said Raymond Gonzalez, 17. "It would have been a little too much for me."
"I pretty much worked four months straight to get here," said Etham Myatt, 15, who earned more than $325.
Salt Lake City Councilman Wayne Horrocks greeted the visitors, accepted the key to Cambridge City, and announced to the cheering crowd, "We ordered 13 inches of snow for you and it just came yesterday."
"Truthfully, this is like a religious experience for us," said George Greenidge, a teacher who has accompanied the students on the yearly Utah trek for all three years.
No one who has the money or gets it from parents is allowed on the trip, he said. Each student must work to earn the money and the right to go. "That way you get the mesh of kids who've been working together. It's a morale builder. The kids start working as soon as we get back to Boston for the next year."
"This is a group of kids from almost every socio-economic, racial, religious and ethnic background that have put their efforts together to see this trip happen," said Michael Kras-now, who helped coordinate the trip.
But whether the students were underprivileged, black, white, Protestant or Catholic _ all 66 were smiling wide in anticipation of "that great Utah powder."
Local sponsors include Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton ski resorts, Lewis Brothers Stages, Dominos Pizza, KDAB, KSL-TV, John Cayhill, UTA, Wasatch Mountain Club and Brighton Lodge.