If you haven't been to a WGI World Championship, lately or ever, you're really missing out on some fantastic pageantry. The flurry of flags and rifles and anything else that can be spun or thrown, and the motion of dance adds up to one of the most intense weekends of audio/visual entertainment anywhere.

With the ever-growing Percussion division bringing in more and more scholastic and independent drum lines from around the country, the thrills keep growing every year.

Independent World Class honors went to Music City Mystique (TN) with their rendetion of the Oscar Winning film "Gladiator". Blue Knights, sponsored by Blue Knight Drum and Bugle Corps brought home the silver medal with their show "In the Lot", a representation of a drum corps drumline warming up before a show. The bronze was awarded to Sacramento Freelancers (CA). In Scholastic World Class Percussion the gold medal was awarded to Mission Viejo HS (CA).

There are six guard divisions; World, Open, and A, under both Scholastic and Independent designations.

All WGI World Championships events were held in downtown Milwaukee on April 6, 7 and 8, with each of the events taking place in a complex of buildings within a couple blocks of one another.

The instructional staff of these guards reads like a "Who's Who" of drum corps visual staffs. WGI has become such a focus of the winter months that many corps visual programs don't kick into gear until after the WGI Championship weekend.

In the Independent World division, Pride of Cincinnati (OH-97.8) won its first-ever Championship with an explosive rendering of "Channel One Suite." This show had everything, and lots of it, making it practically impossible to encapsulate. The guard is an outgrowth of the Pride of Cincinnati Drum and Bugle Corps from many seasons back.

St. Ann's (MA-96.75) placed second with a deadly accurate show of brutal intensity, its most abstract show ever. The defending Champion, Fantasia (CA-96.55), wrapped up the medallists with a tribute to music by the Beatles.. Blessed Sacrament (MA, 4th-96.5) was close behind, with a show emotionally exploring the concept of character. Other finalists included; Crown Guard (OH, 9th-88.75), sponsored by Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps, and Patriots (NY, 11th-85.45), sponsored by Patriots Drum and Bugle Corps.

In the Scholastic World division, James Logan HS (CA-98.8) set a new record score with an astounding and breathtaking personal analysis of "O Fortuna." Heavy on aerobically-exhausting dance steps, this production gave the guard it's third World Championship in-a-row. Second place went to Center Grove HS (IN-94.6) and it's "Scandals" show. The guard seems to always be in the hunt for one of the three medals. Third place was awarded to Miamisburg HS (OH-94.35), which once again reveled in the art of making equipment spinning seem effortless.

The top Independent Open honors went to St. Ann's Open (MA), sister of the second place guard in Independent World finals. The top Scholastic Open guard was Avon HS (IN), whose companion percussion ensemble won the finals in the Open Percussion division. Independent and Scholastic A Class honors went to Esperanza du Luz (CA), sister program to the Esperanza Drum and Bugle Corps, and Walton HS (GA).

During the Independent World finals finale, a special tribute was given to Lynn Lindstrom, who left her position of WGI Executive Director after 24 years at the helm. She has been the only Executive Director WGI has known in its entire existence. Under her leadership, WGI has grown to affect countless thousands of performers and fans. She will be missed.

The 2002 WGI World Championships will be held in Dayton, OH on April 11th, 12th, and 13th. New for next year is a more compressed format, with all events ending by Saturday night, allowing Sunday to be a travel day for all.

For more information, contact WGI at www.wgi.org, or write the organization at 4010 Youngfield Street, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033. WGI's phone number is (303) 424-1927 and the fax number is (303) 431-7267.