Big 25th Anniversary Empire Statesmen Banquet And Ball
Members of the Empire Statesmen organization wound up their 25th anniversary season on November 29 with the largest, liveliest and loudest banquet in the organization’s quarter-century history.
The evening included a large-screen presentation of pictures taken over 25 years of corps activity, a video produced during July 4 weekend alumni performances, including various corps members recalling fond moments of corps founder Vince Bruni and a video showing the complete field show during the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championships at Paetec Park on Labor Day weekend.
Live entertainment during the evening included a performance by the Zucchini Heads, a drum duet featuring rudiments and rap music lyrics first performed during Empire Statesmen winter stage shows in the 1980s. The Half Ton Horns, a well-known Rochester funk band, provided plenty of funk, soul and rhythm and rock tunes for dancing to wind up the evening. Five of the 11 band members are Empire Statesmen alumni.
Close to 250 well-dressed individuals from the Rochester area, western New York and Canada attended the black tie optional 25th anniversary banquet and ball in Rochester’s downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel. Those attending included past and present corps members and their guests, corps instructors and staff, office staff, long-standing bingo volunteers, local political representatives, members of the Statesmen’s executive committee, DCA president Gil Silva and treasurer Michael “Red” Corso and members of the family of the late Vince Bruni.
The annual banquet also marked the fifth anniversary of the passing of “Mr. B,” who founded the Empire Statesmen in 1983. He also founded the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 1976. He passed away on the Friday evening of the 1983 DCA championship tournament weekend.
The anniversary celebrations included a cocktail hour from 6 to 7 pm, which gave attendees plenty of time to socialize and review the extensive display of pictures and memorabilia from the past 25 years. The dinner began promptly at 7 pm with Hall of Fame member Ritchie Price, a former Empire Statesmen soprano soloist and consultant, performing the national anthem.
During the award ceremony following the meal, each member of the corps was introduced according to length of membership. Those celebrating five, 10 and 15 years of membership received special awards. Everyone attending the banquet received a silver anniversary keepsake program including a list of songs and shows performed by the Empire Statesmen from 1983 to 2008 and the scores and place of finish in 10 contests during 2008. Each guest also received a special 25th anniversary enamel lapel pin featuring the corps’ top hat and cane logo.
Members of the committee which organized the event were Allen Buell, Brian King, Daniele Lyman, Terry Steele, Jimmy Steele, Becky Wehner, Leslie Wehner and Steve Wehner.
The anniversary banquet and ball were part of the Empire Statesmen’s open house weekend, which included the first two practice sessions to prepare for the 2009 field show production, titled Out of Many, One: the American Destiny. The theme explores a wide variety of well-known and appealing music, including classical, religious, popular and patriotic selections, which illustrate the rich tapestry and mosaic of American spirit, identity and values.
Regular two day rehearsal camps at Mercy High School, 1437 Blossom Road on Rochester’s upper east side, will be held every other weekend beginning on January 3, 2009. The first winter performance is scheduled for mid-March.
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.
For more information about any aspect of the Empire Statesmen organization, call (585) 266-2232, e-mail esmen [at] rochester [dot] rr [dot] com or visit the Empire Statesmen Web site at: www.statesmen.org.