Statesmen At The Beach
Rochester’s Empire Statesmen made a big splash on the southern New Jersey shore in the first drum and bugle corps contest of the season, finishing a close second to defending Drum Corps Associates (DCA) champion Buccaneers in Wildwood, NJ on Saturday, June 17. The Buccaneers, of Reading, PA, scored 76.788, with Empire Statesmen right behind at 76.000.
The two corps will go head to head again on July 1, when the Empire Statesmen present the Vince Bruni Preview of Champions contest in Wegmans Stadium at Aquinas Stadium in Rochester.
Both corps are diving back into the summer contest season just as they finished last September, with Empire Statesmen finishing second to the Bucs, of Reading, PA, at the DCA finals. Hawthorne Caballeros, who sponsored the “Cabs at the Beach” contest in Wildwood, finished third, with a score of 74.538. The Connecticut Hurricanes, of Derby, CT, finished fourth with 66.863. New York Skyliners were fifth, with 62.200. The contest, held indoors in the Wildwood Convention Center, was the first of the 2006 DCA season.
The Convention Center, a unique, state-of-the-art, 260,000-square-foot facility, is located on the world famous Wildwoods Boardwalk directly overlooking the white sand beach and Atlantic Ocean. Located within a day’s drive of one-third of the country’s population, it can accommodate groups as small as 100 or as large as 10,000. A unique Teflon-coated fabric roof creates an attractive, acoustically stable interior. The Centre is directly connected to 38 blocks of boardwalk fun and excitement just outside the doors.
The trip to Wildwood, at the southern tip of New Jersey, was one of the longest of the season for members of the Empire Statesmen, who arrived in Wildwood about 5:30 am Saturday, following an eight and a half hour bus trip from Rochester. Following a few hours of sleep at Crest Memorial Elementary School, the corps practiced most of the day to prepare for the contest.
Starting time for the contest was 6 pm, an unusually early time, so there were a few hours after the retreat ceremony for members to enjoy the food and entertainment along the Boardwalk before climbing back on the buses at 11 pm for the return trip to Rochester. With no contest scheduled for June 24, both the Statesmen and Bucs will have next weekend to prepare for their rematch in the Rochester contest.
The third annual Preview of Champions is named in honor of Vince Bruni, who founded the Empire Statesmen in 1983 and the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 1976 and served as director of both until his passing in 2003.
Five-time DCA champion Syracuse Brigadiers will also be featured in the Preview of Champions. Rochester Crusaders and the White Sabers of Dansville, NY, are also competing on July 1. The Preview of Champions will also include exhibition performances by Mighty St. Joe’s Alumni Corps, of Leroy, NY, and the Empire Cadets, the youth marching band operated as a community outreach project by the Empire Statesmen. More than 15,000 youngsters have participated in the youth program since it was founded by Vince Bruni in 1975.
The Empire Statesmen, also five-time DCA champions, are also sponsoring the three-day DCA Labor Day weekend championship tournament, being held in Rochester for the first time since 1996. This year’s schedule of events includes Individual and Ensemble contests, a old-fashioned outdoor drum corps party, induction of seven new members into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, a concert by 10 top U.S. and Canadian alumni corps, and prelims and finals for the competing corps in PAETEC Park Stadium. More than 40 units will participate in events over the weekend.
Empire Statesmen will also host the 2007 DCA tournament. Nine of the 42 DCA championships from 1965 to 2005 have been held in Rochester: four from 1968 to 1971; four from 1973 to 1976 and one in 1996.
The Empire Statesmen drum and bugle corps is a self-supporting independent group that represents the city of Rochester across the United States and Canada and as far abroad as Europe, the Caribbean and South America.
The Empire Statesmen are known for their high quality, entertaining performances on the contest field, concert stage and in street parades and other special events. In addition to operating the Empire Cadets, the Statesmen support area school music programs by participating in benefit concerts that have raised more than $300,000 over the past 20 years.
For ticket information about the Vince Bruni Preview of Champions and the DCA championships, call (585) 266-2232 or visit the Empire Statesmen Web site at: www.statesmen.org