From an Americanos press release: In this wonderful activity we call drum corps, sometimes the not so favorable decisions need to be made. On Saturday, Feb. 28, the board of directors of the Americanos made the responsible financial decision to cease drum corps operations for the 2004 season. This decision was not to be public knowledge until a formal announcement could be made to our membership and instructional staff, but as fate would have it, the news leaked real quick. Since that point several individuals and other drum corps have expressed their interest in lending a helping hand, along with the current membership and staff pledging their willingness to do "what ever it takes" to make the season a success. The Americanos board's decision to not field was purely financial based. The corps ended the 2003 season with the normal debt load of any other season, with the same budgeting procedures used for many years. According to our budget, as in past years, by this time our past season debt would be erased and we would have at least $25K in the bank towards the upcoming summer season. This year, however, we found ourselves at a negative 50K at the end of February. That is a 75K turn-around. Most of this deficit is due to a few factors: 1) - a decline in bingo revenue, 2) - a breakin to the corps hall, where the culprits got away with our entire safe, which contained a significant amount of cash, and 3) - our main sewer line to our corps (bingo) hall had collapsed, having to not only be repaired, but forcing us to shut down our bingo operation for five days until the work was complete. The decision to stop now was made to hopefully preserve the organization for the future, instead of jeopardizing our very existence on "one" season. Within the past week and after endless hours of budget crunching, it is very favorable that the corps will be able to field this season after all. Some key factors that have made it possible are that a poll of the current membership has found that 100 percent who have responded are willing to pay an additional $200 in member dues, the instructional staff is 100 percent willing to take a significant cut in pay, if receive any pay at all, and plans for alternative fund-raising have been discussed and are being implemented at this time. The corps will be holding the next camp on March 26 – 28. The exact location is still to be determined, as we are seeking a site in lower central Michigan. If one cannot be found it will be in Menasha, Wis. Stay tuned to our web site as exact camp information will be posted no later than Saturday, March 13. With our membership goal of at least 80 members closely at hand, this season is looking more and more promising by the day and will include our full summer schedule as originally planned. To those of you who have come forward to help us out, I thank you from the bottom of my heart! It really makes you feel good when you know that there are people out there who really do care. If there is anyone else who would like to lend a helping hand or dollar, it sure would make a difference in preserving the 67-year history of the Americanos and ensuring our place in the future of the drum corps activity. Viva Americanos!