There was a present waiting for the Cadets as they returned to their hometown of Allentown, Pa. — a first-place finish (92.65) on Saturday, Aug. 4 during the second night of the DCI Eastern Classic.
"We've been working hard," Cadets director George Hopkins said. "We've made a lot of changes over the past week. We're settling in here down the stretch."
According to Hopkins, the reigning World Class Champions don't have any changes for their Christmas-themed production "12.25" in the works. They're spending the few days leading into the World Championships rehearsing and competing in East Rutherford, N.J. and Massillon, Ohio.
"We have to clean," he said. "Because we've changed so much, we might be a little behind where we want to be."
Santa Clara Vanguard took second place with a score of 91.50. And within seven-tenths of a point of each other were The Cavaliers (3rd, 87.75), Boston Crusaders (4th, 87.30) and Madison Scouts (5th, 87.05).
"I'm sure it's been exciting to follow," Madison Scouts drum major Sean Phelan said about the competition between the three corps this season. "We like to keep our eyes on the things that are within our control and keep on working on our own show. And I'm sure everybody else is out there working, doing the same thing."
He said the corps had a couple of great weeks of rehearsal leading into the Eastern Classic, having made a lot of fixes, adjustments and tweaks to their 2012 field show "Reframed."
"We're really getting comfortable with the show, and a lot of that came through tonight," Phelan said. "It was a lot of fun to see it all happen."
Blue Knights (6th, 83.95) kept themselves ahead of Blue Stars (7th, 83.20), who in turn kept themselves ahead of Crossmen (8th, 82.30).
"We really came together and probably had the best run we've had all year," Blue Knights drum major Thomas Kober said about their performance at the iconic J. Birney Crum Stadium.
He said it's been amazing for him to see members grow, from auditions in November to performing in August. And although he welcomes the competition between themselves and other corps fighting to be among the coveted top-12 at the Finals in Indianapolis, Kober said it's all about being the best Blue Knights they can be.
"It's just another game," Blue Knights drum major Angelo Sapienza said, adding to Kober's sentiment. "Those guys are working just as hard as we do. We bring our best to the field, and we know they do too. And that's the name of the game. It's what we do."
Glassmen (9th, 80.40) and The Academy (10th, 74.90) rounded out the top-10 of the night.
Despite a two-point penalty for going overtime with their production, Academy stayed ahead of Jersey Surf (11th, 74.15) as well as the Cascades (12th, 68.60).
Making a surprise, sideline appearance during Jersey Surf's show were members of the Bridgemen Alumni who came out in their trademark yellow jacketed uniforms to cheer the corps on. Surf's 2012 production, "Bridgemania," pays homage to the storied Bayonne, N.J. corps.
"The Bridgemen Alumni and Surf have always been pretty friendly," Jersey Surf drum major Jon Lacy said. "And with the Bridgemen tribute show concept for this year, we made a more official partnership over the last 12 months or so. We've been supporting each other every show we're at together and every chance we get."
Among the Bridgemen Alumni was drummer George Hunt, a member of the Bridgemen from 1979 to 1981. He's been with the Bridgemen Alumni since 2005.
"The enthusiasm of the young guys in [Jersey Surf] is unbelievable," Hunt said. "They're just having a ball playing the show." He said it's been a wonderful year working with Jersey Surf, and the excitement on the members' faces is evident before, during and after they perform.
Jersey Surf repaid the well wishes from the Bridgemen Alumni during the all-age corps' encore at the end of the night, storming the field with instruments in hand for a joint performance to close out the show.
All corps from Friday and Saturday night won't see each other again until Thursday, Aug. 9 as the DCI World Championships get underway in Indianapolis.
View the recap of scores from the Saturday edition of the DCI Eastern Classic.
Read more about the Friday edition of the DCI Eastern Classic.
View a complete schedule of World Championship events.
Contributing to this report: Michael Boo, Jessica Skogh, Linda and Sid Unser