Day Ten: Meerhout, Belgium
The last day the GLASSMEN spent on the continent of Europe was a quick one day trip through Meerhout, Belgium. A small town of just over 9,000 near the northern center of the country, this is the first time the city has hosted a drum corps show at this level.
The Great Church in the town centre of Meerhout, Belgium. (photo: Josh Duggan)
First thing in the morning, the members and staff at the sports hall housing site were greeted with a huge feast of breads, fresh boiled eggs, bacon, ham, delicious cheeses, juices and milk. The Belgians surely knew how to get a corps fed and ready for the day! They were then shuttled over to the show site to rehearse for the day.
Color guard Junior Santiago in rehearsal. (photo: Hans Kloppert)
It didn’t take long until the sounds of the corps reached all corners of the city, and interested citizens came over to the stadium for a quick look. Ticket sales climbed fast, and by the time the show began at 8:00 p.m., the stands were nearly full from end to end. The temperature reached nearly 90 degrees during the day, but the crowd hung in there with umbrellas, hats, and fans. As the evening cooled off, the corps took the field for a quick presentation to the drum majors, then the Internationale Taptoe Meerhout-Laakdaal began!
Three percussion groups from Holland – Cadans from Bree, Cameleon from Oostende, and Percussieband from Laakdaal (the most local group to Meerhout). Drum corps performing included Jubal from Dordrect, Netherlands; Northern Star from Leeds, England; La Vaillante from Saint Quentin, France; Showband Calypso from Zwevengem, Belgium; and of course, the GLASSMEN.
The drumline at the ready before the show. (photo: Hans Kloppert)
Just before the GLASSMEN were to play their opening notes of the show, the announcer jumped up to the podium and told the audience that it was in fact the Bo Sodders’ birthday – the drum major – and the crowd broke into a spontaneous version of "Happy Birthday."
Bo Sodders accepts applause for the corps’ performance. (photo: Hans Kloppert)
The corps played the show through to yet another standing ovation, and wowed the crowd again with a short concert. They even learned tonight that their closing piece – Beethoven’s "Ode to Joy" – is actually an official anthem for all of Europe! But it was soon time for the GLASSMEN to wrap things up and get moving on the road towards England. Everyone said goodbye to their newfound friends, exchanged numbers and emails, and promised to keep in touch.
GLASSMEN Trumpet Youri Debaere is originally from right here in Belgium.
With everything they have brought (and bought!) packed up onto three busses, one truck, and one van, the corps set off about 1 a.m. for the last country in their great adventure – England! The corps was sound asleep on the busses when they pulled up to the customs area of the Eurotunnel, and although they managed to pass through the French side easily, the English side required that all the members and staff exit the busses and walk through customs individually – even at 4:00 in the morning! Once that was done, they waited for the next train, and were then safely across to England.
The GLASSMEN will arrive in Peterborough in time to have a full clinic and twelve corps show on Sunday – an amazing way to wrap up an amazing European Tour! Stay tuned to www.glassmen.org for more details!