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Looking Back to 1976

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The Bicentennial YEAR! What a summer it was and DCI World Championships in Philadelphia, you can't ask for anything better!


Our corps started off the year in May competing in a show in Canton, OH and then the following Memorial Day weekend in Michigan for 2 contests. Can you imagine corps starting their season in May today? Our uniforms back then were gold and black blouse and black pants but by the 2nd week in June we were wearing  "new" red tops thanks to a purchase from The Seneca Princemen who merged with Toronto Optimists to form Seneca Optimists.

There were plenty of contests to attend that year, every weekend. Our season wasn't over after our trip to Philadelphia either as we participated in 2 more contests after Philly. Prior to leaving for Philly, we spent two days competing at the NT Open (North Tonawanda, NY- thus the NT). The open class show was won by Marquis from Fon du Lac, WI and we won the "A" Class portion defeating the Krescendo and Simplex Minutemen.

It appeared it was the start of a climb to Open class someday but once the winter rehearsal season kicked in it was obvious that we lost may veterans. By May 1977 we merged with another corps.

1976 saw Blue Devils win their first of many DCI World Championships and I saw it on the 50 yard line. I was able to see Gene Rayburn and his wife while they were doing the telecast for PBS. Watching Santa Clara Vanguard, Bridgemen, 27th and Madison was a real treat! Prelims I got to see Royal Crusaders as well. "A" Class was fun to watch as I saw Valiant Knights, Wausau Story and others.


I think 1976 was a pretty good year for drum corps and I bet you may have some stories to add too so go ahead!

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I got to watch drum corps evolve right in front of my eyes in early August of 1976. The Blue Devils came into Stillwater, Minnesota several days ahead of their back-to-back shows there.

Those of us who closely followed drum corps had read and heard about the Concord juggernaut, and the Devils more than lived up to the hype.  I spent literally 10 hours a day for 3 days watching them polish their show.  You must remember than prior to 1976 Madison had won with basically a blow 'em off the field presentation (one of the 1975 DCI finals brass judges personally told me he couldn't even hear what Madison was doing, due to the volume level they were performing at).....but what the Blue Devils came up with was the first true melding of finesse, power, musicianship and showmanship.  When we watched Blue Devils do a complete run through of their entire show in an empty stadium, we knew we were seeing the future of drum corps!  And, for the people who claim Madison would have won DCI had they started out the year with the same show they ended up with....NO WAY!  Blue Devils were head-and-shoulders above anything the Scouts could put on the field in '76.

We also have to mention that some corps were gun-shy about showing up in Philadelphia for that 1976 DCI Championship, due to the Legionnaires Disease outbreak that hit Philly a few weeks earlier.  Andrew Hornak, a 47-year-old bus driver for Pennsylvania's Keystone Kadets junior corps, died of the disease after bringing the corps to the state American Legion parade in Philadelphia the first week of August, so you can appreciate how corps directors felt about exposing their kids to a disease that at that time was a complete mystery.

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