Mood At Scout House Pub Night Was Far From Black

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The Black Thursday Pub night organized by Preston Scout House Alumni Band, of Cambridge, Ontario as a tribute to the Guelph Royalaires couldn’t have been brighter. It was an evening filled with lots of laughter, tall tales of past drum corps adventures and rekindling of old friendships. Black Thursday pub nights were a long-standing Royalaires tradition for more than 59 years.

Despite waistlines greatly expanded and hairlines greatly receded, disappearing completely for some, old friends had no trouble connecting with each other amid the lively talk throughout the evening. Two large format television screens displayed vintage photos and videos of Royalaires field shows over a number of years.

The special event attracted a full house of participants to the Preston Knights of Columbus hall, the Scout House indoor winter practice facility. The event served as a reminder of the close relationship between the two corps that was established in the 1950s, when many Scout House members who aged out of junior ranks would routinely travel 10 miles down the road to join the Royalaires. About half the current membership of Scout House Alumni Band performed with both groups in years past.

Some of those attending were active in 1950s, and helped the two corps achieve remarkable success over the following decade. Scout House was years ahead of the time in introducing choreography and stylized marching to field shows, touring extensively from Minnesota to the east coast when most other corps were performing on local circuits, and establishing a pattern of community service that still exists. During the same era, Guelph Royalaires won the Canadian national championship six years in a row.

The Black Thursday Pub was one of a series of special events Scout House plans to offer to the community over the next year and half, in celebration of the Band’s 75th anniversary in 2013. Already this spring Scout House has participated in two popular local events: an indoor winter color guard show organized by the Ventures, and a city of Cambridge fitness challenge that was taped for later viewing on CBC national television. Picking up on the extreme weather conditions that prevailed during Scout House performances in 2011, it rained hard during both of the Band’s performances this year.

Two of the major community-oriented events still to come this year are the Spring Opening arena show to be held April 29 in Preston Memorial Auditorium and the Scout House Invitational Tattoo on August 18 in Waterloo. Both are annual events, but neither was held last year.

The spring show was cancelled since no arenas in the Cambridge area were available because late season hockey tournaments were still running. Last year’s Tattoo was cancelled when a major storm blew into Waterloo just minutes before the evening show was set to begin. Details of this year’s Tattoo, a salute to the 35th anniversary of the Ceremonial Band of the Waterloo Region Police Service, are available at:

Scout House is still on its winter practice schedule for a few more weeks, with Sunday afternoon instruction for brass and percussion. Two field show drill practices will take place in early May in the Cambridge soccer dome, to prepare for the Band’s first field performance of the season in Buckhannon, West Virginia on Saturday, May 19.

Since performing its first concert in Mississauga in 1999, Scout House Alumni Band has performed in more than 360 parades, field shows and concerts in communities across Ontario and Quebec, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Florida.

About 50 of the current alumni band membership of about 100 marched with Preston Scout House in the 1950s and 1960s. The ages of Band members range from 22 to 80. Originally, Scout House was an all male organization, but today’s marching unit includes more than 20 females.

For more information about Preston Scout House Alumni Band, contact Activities Director Nancy Weiler at telephone (519) 653-3376, email prestonscouthouseband [dot] adm [at] sympatico [dot] ca or visit the Web site at

Posted by on Sunday, April 8th, 2012. Filed under Current News, DCA News, FrontPage Feature.