Dubbed "a full 80 years in the making," the Racine Scouts organization created a party atmosphere this past weekend on May 27, by plying fans with cake, ice cream, and an afternoon of corps music to celebrate longevity against the odds – a birthday dating back to 1927. Considered America's oldest, continually competitive junior drum and bugle corps and music scouting group, the Racine Scouts were organized in 1927 as Troop 14.

Racine Boy Scout Corps

Under clear skies, an honor guard and the Racine Boy Scout Corps kicked off the musical festivities entering Case High School's Hammes Field in Racine, Wis. Back after several years' absence, the Racine Boy Scout Corps, wearing khaki Boy Scout uniforms, performed a selection of patriotic tunes.


Celebrating 46 years – 10 years in Division I – the Pioneer from neighboring Milwaukee, Wis. marched on the 50-yard-line to stage their 2007 competitive show "Fields of Green" filling out their rep with the musical gem "When Irish Eyes are Smiling." Under the baton of six-year veteran member Alex Wilga, the corps played additional Larry Kerchner arrangements from their 2007 program.

Racine Scouts

Known as the "Chrome Domes," the Racine Scouts introduced their 2007 production "Portraits in Chrome: Idols, Icons and Images" with three selections starting with "Blue Skies." Wrapping up with the melodic "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Old Man River," the corps gave audience members a taste of their full production which will include the driving "Caravan" and "Birthday Sweet" medley. The competitive corps was joined by the Racine Scouts Alumni Corps for additional tributes including a stylized version of the "Star Spangled Banner," the corps' signature "Onward Christian Soldiers," and "Shenandoah," with a mellophone solo by alum and guard instructor Chris Neal. Howard "Howie" Dahnert, 89, who will be inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame this year, also was honored as part of Sunday's festivities. He joined the Racine Scouts in 1928 as a bell player, and then continued in various capacities with the corps throughout the decades. He received a citation for "Howard Danhert Day" in Racine and the corps got their day in Wisconsin by the state's governor.

The Cavaliers' founder Don Warren (left) congratulates Howard Dahnert.

In contrast, from the bass drum ranks of the Racine Scouts – having been recently recruited just two days before this event was Terry Hendricks, 14, performing in his very first corps performance. Hendricks' mom, Ozellia, manning the front ticket gate, was encouraged by this first experience. "I have a few more kids at home that may enjoy this," she said. Terry's thoughts on the whirlwind exposure to the activity were positive," said Ozellia. "I liked it," Terry nodded. "It was fun." Entering the field to the corps' familiar "Iowa" drum cadence, the Classic Cavaliers – an alumni performance group - proved small can be powerful. Buffered by traditional percussive breaks, their performance included a selection of classic Cavaliers' repertoire including "Bully," "Battle Hymn," and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," among others.

The Cavaliers

The Cavaliers also performed as part of the birthday celebration. Their introduction gave the moment back to the Racine Scouts, noting the Racine Scouts' influence on Don Warren as he founded the Cavaliers back in 1948. The corps' 2007 Billy Joel-inspired program, which they played selections from, is divided into four movements beginning with "Angry Young Man." The second piece, classical in composition, mixed Joel's "And So It Goes" with "Invention in C Minor" highlighted by a baritone solo. Commenting about this year's program, second-year Cavaliers veteran Nathan Gropp said: "We're doing something very different this year. We have never moved so much in the opener." Abundant smiles, pats on the back, and good wishes were in the air this Sunday, especially for Racine Scouts age-out members Brandon Rogers (color guard) and Erica Marks (front ensemble) for a terrific season ahead. It was a celebratory start to the drum corps season soon to continue in stadiums across the country. Let the Summer Music Games Tour begin!