It’s all about the beat—the precision beat, and the marching feet. Add in creativity and theatrical air and it makes for a toe-tapping feast for both ears and eyes. There’s no better place to see that than with a gifted drum corps, and no better place to experience it than here in Williamsport, at the Williamsport Marching Millionaires 2016 Drum Corps Invitational on Aug. 13.
According to John Shableski, president of the Marching Millionaires band association, it’s been over twenty-five years since there was a drum corps competition in the Williamsport area.
“They used to use Bowman Field for the event. The stadium wasn’t the right size, but it held enough people.”
With the $3 million upgrade to the Williamsport Area High School (WAHS) stadium, the event is at the perfect field, with everything marching musicians could need. Shableski noted that all the improvements have created a multi-use stadium, and where some people see a football stadium, he sees a marching band stadium, and a field of dreams for marching musicians.
The timing couldn’t be better for this event. The WAHS stadium replaces the Bucknell University stadium for drum corps events, so the marchers have a new, renovated location. And this competition is at the end of the season, when the corps are at their very best, when every move has been tested and perfected.
Seven corps will be here from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. But there is a special Williamsport connection, as the drum instructor for WAHS Marching Millionaires, Marc Garside, is also the instructor for the Hawthorne Caballeros in New Jersey. Several Williamsport students march with this corps, and the Caballeros are the host for the invite. They will compete against the Reading Buccaneers, the Connecticut Hurricanes, the Skyliners, the Long Island Sunrisers, the White Sabers from Dansville, New York, and the Bushwackers from Princeton, New Jersey.
All of the groups are senior drum corps, meaning that these corps have people from thirteen to fifty years old involved in the love of music and precision movement. The competition for the slots is keen, with many players vying for a position in these elite groups. It’s a lifelong sport, which often grows from the high school marching band experience. And these seasoned performers have plenty to teach the kids in school about their craft. The intermission entertainment is the Cabs Alumni Corps, which is the showcase for performers from the Hawthorne Caballeros who are over fifty years old.
All the groups are in for the weekend, and will not only compete, but will also rehearse their routines at area high schools around the county, and do clinics for marching band students. The public is welcome to see the rehearsals at their local high school before coming to Williamsport for the competition. There will also be a tribute to the Williamsport Black Eagles drum and bugle corps, who won the championship sixty years ago.
The tickets are $10 for general admission and $15 for premium seating. The stadium area opens at 4 p.m., with opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. and competition beginning at 6:30. Plenty of parking and food will be available, and proceeds benefit the Williamsport Marching Millionaires.