August 10 report from Indianapolis

Cadet's Hall-of-Famer Calls Tour of Champions Finale "Spectacular"


This is the first in what I hope will be a daily report culminating with the DCI Championship Competition at Lucas Oil dome stadium.

I'll begin with the spectacular Tour of Champions Finale at Giants' Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands last Sunday. If you weren't there you should have been, because I believe it was the night that drum corps history may have changed forever. It was, I think the model of what drum corps can be...with creative thinking.

toc finale

That is not to say that there aren't issues that need to be resolved in order to, in some way, ensure that all corps — whatever formula might prove necessary — can somehow be included in the big picture. I am confident, however, that the creative geniuses that just gave us probably the most spectacular night of drum corps ever presented, will also be able to expand the concept to the drum corps medium in general.

One thing is absolutely certain: entertainment from the moment a spectator enters the stadium until they exit the gate to leave for home, is the key to filling seats with smiling, excited, happy spectators.

The spectators came in droves, obviously far, far more than were expected. The line to purchase walk-up tickets was incredible, and the ticket windows were not staffed to handle the onslaught. I know that this won't happen again.

Once you entered the stadium there was entertainment and personal interaction between participating corps members and spectators everywhere you looked: corps warming up in partial uniforms in one section, brass ensembles, percussion ensembles, soloists, even corps vocalists performed one after another by the fountain in the entry plaza. Huge crowds were gathered around these talented young men and women marveling at the talent they were witnessing. That talent, of course, is obvious on the field while the corps are performing, but to have the opportunity to see the talent on display up-close-and-personal was breathtaking.

All through the market place (souvenir stand) area young members of the corps could be seen greeting people, posing for photographs, answering questions, and probably most of all, glowing from the experience of hearing so many people telling them how much they were admired and appreciated.

The atmosphere of a championship competition in the modern era, especially for people who had not experienced or personally attended championships in many years, opened a lot of eyes and generated a lot of excitement in the process.

For our Cadet's alumni the night was yet another reason for the great pride and devotion we all feel for our corps. There was a reception on the mezzanine level to celebrate the induction of our newest Hall of Fame honorees. The reception was packed with alumni representing every decade of our existence, along with many famous names currently active in the activity who began their careers as Cadet in earlier years.

Unfortunately because of everything that was happening and all the joy of seeing old friends and fellow Cadets we had not seen for many, many years, we neglected to conclude the event with the singing of our corps hymn. As you all know, all important Cadet events (and even most not especially important Cadet events) conclude with that ceremony of re-bonding and reaffirmation. It was an oversight that in retrospect we have to remember not to repeat.

That momentous and joyful reception was immediately followed by a second reception in a different area of the stadium for donors and Maroon & Gold Club members. That reception was enriched by a young man from our friends The Boston Crusaders who sang in a baritone voice that would bring down the walls of Jericho, as those in attendance stood totally transfixed by the talent of this amazing young man. We thank the Boston Crusaders for sharing him with us.

The competition itself was indescribable. It was not the accustomed format of each successive corps just a bit better (according to your personal perception). This was eight mind-boggling corps, one after another, bringing the spectators to their feet in one enthusiastic standing ovation after another.

Some spectators were a bit shocked to see top-rated corps appearing in unaccustomed sequence. It is my understanding that positions were drawn for all of these five Tour of Champions shows prior to the beginning of the season, and that single drawing determined the order of appearance at all five shows. Each performance was followed by an "instant encore" to further entertain as the corps members not involved in the encore unobtrusively removed the flags, props, and other components from the corps' performance off the field without forcing the audience to focus on something that is not particularly interesting under a regular contest format.

There were actually far too many innovations in contest structure and presentation for me to cover all of them, but I'm certain that as this concept moves forward they will become increasingly familiar to all of us.

Finally, what I personally found inspiring and stirring was to see the sea of maroon among the thousands of spectators. Many of the maroon items were worn by Cadet's alumni, while probably even more were worn by fans — old fans — and now, because of the quality and appeal of the 2011 Cadets, new fans as well. I can tell you from personal observation that our souvenir tables were swamped with people purchasing Cadets-related items, to the point where the poor young volunteers behind the tables found it virtually impossible to keep up with the volume of purchasing. I'm sure that this is a problem that will be addressed this week in Indianapolis.

Drum corps fans and very fervent supporters are just now beginning to arrive in Indianapolis for the big event. I am hoping to have the opportunity to send out regular reports for the next four days.

As the whole world probably knows by this point, our 2011 Cadets are one of the major favorites to go all the way this year. As our director, George Hopkins, always tells The Cadets, "you can only control the quality of the performance you lay down on the field. How the judges assess that performance is beyond our control."

Of course, we all hope that the fans who so enthusiastically support The Cadets this year will prevail, and the judges will assess our performance favorably. Come what may, our 2011 Cadets have enriched all our lives beyond measure. They have honored our history, our heritage and our values, and they will be remembered for all time as one of the truly great corps of Cadets. We wish them luck and fulfillment, and we wish them to know that 7.5 decades of fellow Cadets will be with you on the field of competition in Indianapolis.

GO CADETS! For Holy Name shall always be...




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