APRIL FOOLS and thanks for playing!

Rest assured Phantom Regiment will be in the classic white helmet, complete with full white plume. In fact the new feathers arrived Monday (and no ostriches were harmed in the process!).

It was a pleasure sharing laughs with the many friends who called or e-mailed. We heard from so many people, including many long-time fans and alumni that haven’t checked in for awhile.

A few more folks fell for it than we expected, including a handful of current members and teaching staff. We even had an offer to buy the helmets since they figured we weren’t going to use them anymore!

Hoax perpetrators Greg Newell and Pat Seidling hope they will be forgiven.

Again, we WILL be in the helmet this year. Now … about that viola section we’re adding…

Text of the HOAX story follows:

The 2004 Phantom Regiment is off to a great start, and to reinforce our recent momentum, a bold decision has been made to replace the helmet with a beret.

“The beret better reflects this year’s artistic sensibilities,” states visual coordinator Tony Hall. “Since the music of Piazolla offers us new sounds, we needed a new look, too.”

Program Coordinator Dan Farrell agrees: “The beret makes perfect sense. The only real issue we now have is settling the debate as to what the headgear is actually called – a beret or a tam.”

Farrell currently has several key staff members researching the accurate definition of a beret versus a tam.

The move was met with excitment by others in the organization.

Longtime wardrobe head Barb Glasscoe, when learning that the bulky helmet was history, simply stated “It’s about time.”

Board vice president Greg Newell is thrilled with the cost savings, stating that a beret is 83% cheaper than the custom-made helmets.

Corps director Pat Seidling encouraged the move, even citing ecological considerations.

“Since the addition of the full plume to this helmet back in 1987, we have annually received threats from PETA and other animal rights activists. Making 90 plumes each season has apparently taken quite a toll on the ostrich population. I’m glad we can now get out of that ugly business”.

The effect on the members, many who came expecting to wear the classic helmet, has been minor. Visual capion head Bob Smith did admit that “that one kid in the red shirt did express some regret, but by the time basics was over, the helmet was the least of his concerns.”

Even the music production side of the staff team accepted the change.

“Dan Farrell wanted it, and hey, what Dan Farrell wants, Dan Farrell gets,” conceded brass arranger J.D. Shaw.

Drum arranger Paul Rennick was unwilling to comment.

Catch Phantom Regiment’s first uniformed performance for 2004 on Saturday, May 29, in Loves Park.