The Blue Devils arrived at Chicago's O'Hare airport a little before noon today, jet-lagged but still glowing from their successful romp through Europe. Kevin Ronan, a Blue Devils contra player from Mesa, Ariz., said his favorite part of the journey was, "The fans. The fans were great."

Matthew Alford, at O'Hare airport this afternoon.
Matthew Alford, a Blue Devils snare drummer from Chino Hills, Calif., agreed that the European fans were the highlight of the trip. "The crowd was very responsive to our show, they cheered us on from the word go, they were very supportive. We had had a very good run-though that day, and a very good show. (We had) a lot of energy," Alford said. Ronan cited the corps' free days in Paris as being particularly memorable. It's a beautiful city, a lot of fun," Ronan said, adding that he saw the Eiffel Tower, the Paris catacombs and Notre Dame cathedral. Alford's highlight was the Blue Devils performance at a music festival in Holland. "It was an amazing performance, everyone there was great," Alford said. The Blue Devils rehearsal schedule in Europe was very similar to a typical rehearsal schedule on U.S. soil, according to Ronan. "It was fairly similar (to rehearsing here). It was warm at times, but everything carried over from the U.S." Looking to the weekend and the corps' first U.S. performances since June 18 in Pleasant Hill, Calif., Ronan said fans could anticipate "a fantastic show, full of energy and ready to perform, (and to) show America what we've got." Fans in Kalamazoo can expect "High energy, a good time," Alford said, concurring with Ronan. "The crowd's going to have a great time, it's going to be great."