On Saturday, July 12, a huge lineup of 15 World, Open, and All-Age Class corps met on a rain-soaked Veterans Memorial Field at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. While the event was delayed an hour due to weather, nothing could stop spectators from coming out to celebrate the Blue Stars' 50th anniversary in the heart of the corps' hometown. A special video tribute and a combined performance with the current Blue Stars corps and alumni were among the festivities. Turning to the competitive side of the evening, the Cadets came in first place with a score of 88.05. The corps has been working the last few days to add changes to its show, "Promise: An American Portrait." Cadets brass player Michael McNeill says those changes have paid off.
"When we moved into spring training, we didn't entirely know much about the end of the show. We learned the closer in spring training, not really knowing how it would turn out," McNeill said. "But the way everything has fit together has been a great success so far." Carolina Crown finished second scoring 86.90, Bluecoats found themselves in third with a score of 85.85, and the Cavaliers snagged fourth place with a score of 84.60. The Cavaliers' bright spot on the score sheets was a second-place finish in percussion. "The show has come a very long way," said Cavaliers drum major Stephen Parsons. "We are just coming off three rehearsal days, so the guys were ready to put their uniforms back on and get in front of the crowd."
Phantom Regiment's performance of "Swan Lake" received fifth place with a score 83.20. The sixth-place corps, Boston Crusaders, finished almost five points behind them with a score of 78.80. Blue Stars, in front of its hometown crowd and its alumni supporters, pulled off a seventh-place finish with a score of 78.65. "I was really honored to perform for the people who made my experience possible," said Blue Stars color guard captain Alex Holland. "It was special to realize that we were performing for 50 years of Blue Stars history sitting in the audience."
As the Colts took the field, the clouds split and a bright rainbow appeared, providing a fitting backdrop for the corps' 2014 program, "Dark Side of the Rainbow." Their performance earned them eighth place with a score of 74.55. Saturday marked the the first time since 2010 that the Iowa corps came out ahead of Spirit of Atlanta (9th, 74.50). Jersey Surf placed 10th with a score of 65.15 The corps' production "Pay It Forward" is themed on the joy of giving. "We want our show to be something more than just a performance on a field," said Jersey Serf drum major Ben Godwin. "We are trying to pay it forward, and we hope that people who see our shows will think about the concept and make a difference." The Govenaires were the sole corps competing in the All-Age division Saturday and earned a score of 69.45.
In the Open Class division, Music City found themselves in first place after scoring 62.70. Legends caught hold of second with a score of 60.45. The Racine Scouts, who performed for their home-state crowd, took home third place with a score of 48.45. The corps' 2014 production, "87," is designed to celebrate the corps' 87th anniversary and honor its title as the oldest active drum and bugle corps in America. "The performance tonight was the best one we've had all season," said Racine Scouts horn sergeant Joseph June. "It feels pretty nice to know that people in the state of Wisconsin really support the Racine Scouts. We feel so welcomed and loved here." Blue Saints earned fourth place with a score of 42.45, improving six tenths of a point from their score of 41.85 in Eden Prairie, Minnesota the day before. From La Crosse, all World Class corps will be making their way to San Antonio over the next week for the DCI Southwestern Championship on Saturday, July 19, at the Alamodome.