So ends our Memorial Day weekend, which was actually the official start of our “Spring Training”. All the sections are in; all those boxes I unloaded last week are being torn into. We even got the corps in uniform and marched the Rockford Memorial Day parade this morning.

Now, I was out of camp Sunday and most of Monday, as I drove up to Moose Lake, Minnesota to see my nephew (and godson) graduate from high school. Top of his class, may I add, and off to an Ivy League school. But enough bragging, and thanks for indulging me this moment of family pride!

I did miss a wet and cold Sunday in Rockford, and I did miss today’s parade. I heard Sunday wasn’t much fun. Work got done, but its never fun standing in cold drizzle, or running in and out of the rain. On the other hand, I am told the parade went very well and that they did the corps, our community and the military veterans proud.

A little Memorial Day parade story for you: We always follow the “Gold Star Mothers” car – a convertible with the eldest local mother of a slain soldier, be it WW II, Korea, Vietnam or now sadly the mid-east. The first year I was here I noticed that as we marched down the blocks, in waves the crowd would stand up, take off their hats and cheer. Now, I knew Rockford loves the Phantom Regiment, but I didn’t expect this enthusiastic of reception! Alas, a few blocks down the parade I realized what all the cheering was for, and did I sure feel pretty dumb. The Rockford crowds love Regiment, no doubt. But, as I soon figured out, they were – and rightly so – removing their hats and cheering not for us, but for the “Gold Star Mother” in the car ahead of us.

Anyway, back to this weekend:

What we did achieve this weekend was getting lots of drill on the field, and tonight we even marched and played the first two movements…with guard work too! Since I have been here (2001) we haven’t done a run of anything – much less full tunes – until at least Thursday of move in. Two tunes on the 3rd day of move in? This is good. Now, I can tell you the corps sounded great and the guard work is awesome, and Jamey’s drill is very cool, and that would all be true. But it was also May 29 and merely our first run. We have work to do. Don’t rush to Rockford with your video camera just yet!

The upcoming week is typically a tough one – lots of work and little tangible reward – at least the drum corps kind which includes cheering crowds. Only a few fans come around, no special shows this week, just 9-to-9 or 9-to-10 and work, work, work. This is the week we need to keep the eye on the prize, and make sure we take the time to bond and build friendships, because the fun of tour seems so long off (actually only 19 days away, but in the middle of a five-day run of 9-to-9’s, that can seem like forever!).

This coming Sunday will be a “pay-off” day, in that we march a short parade in a small nearby town that loves us, then head over to an alumni’s home to play a backyard concert and then indulge in the mother-of-all picnics. Dana Pelan marched contra in the early 1980’s, his sisters and mother have all been very active with the corps. A few years back he started a new tradition of this concert and picnic in his back yard and it’s really become a great time. Thanks, Dana!

In drum corps we teach our young people hard work, manners, self-discipline, good musicianship and much more. We also try and teach that it’s OK to do the hard-work first and then let our hair down a bit. Thus, we’ll work hard this week, and have some fun come Sunday.

Oh yeah, so you won’t have to endure my ramblings much longer: we’ve selected a member to renew the daily diary on our website. Started back in 2001 with “Dave’s Diary”, then “Joni’s Journal”, followed by “Mike’s Memoirs” and last summer’s short-lived “Joe’s Journal”, fans told me they became addicted to each morning update. We’re glad to have this feature back and we’ll share who this years’ author will be in just a few days.

Until next time, we’ll be out on the field working hard. Pat