By Marco Buscaglia After sitting through a seemingly endless flow of college football and basketball games over the holidays, I now know what is lacking in drum corps. In fact, you could say the answer hit me like an exaggerated kick from a large stuffed bird, or a roundhouse punch from an oversized member of the green vegetable family. That's right -- drums corps needs mascots! Now I'm not talking about cute kids dressed up in pint-sized uniforms, I'm talking real mascots. Run-out-before-the-corps-and-whip-the-crowd-into-a-frenzy mascots. Six or seven-foot tall characters covered in fake fur or feathers from head to toe in blue and black or red and green. Save a spot for the last guy to get cut -- the 136th man, if you will -- or the girlfriend who loves to help but can't cook or sew to save her life. Dress him or her up in your corps colors and let their fan flags fly! In addition to being an all-important addition to any corps parade routine, these mascots could use the field of competition to duke it out before the show starts -- maybe a game of dodgeball or some Red Rover. Turn them loose on the crowd to pass out candy, shake hands, kiss babies and deliver an occasional bucket full of confetti to an anticipating audience. Our mascot friends would be helpful before the show as well. Go ahead, send the costumed creature to a show city a few days beforehand -- have him or her clown around at the local mall to drum up some interest or pose with the mayor for photos for the local paper. Then on the day of the show, he can hang out at the souvie stand, signing autographs for all the fans. Here are a few examples of potential mascots from the top 12. The Blue Devils -- that's obvious. After all, they already have some sort of playfully diabolical creature on their Web site. Roll out a costume for the big fella. Give him something to do. I can already see him putting the peace sign behind Michael Cesario's head on the DCI broadcast, that rascally little demon! The Cavaliers have their standing man -- the guy on the side of truck -- but I don't think someone who looks like that would allow himself to partake in the duties of a bona fide mascot -- I can't see him making the necessary exaggerated gesture of "you better give us a good score or else ..." to visual judge Tim Ochran before a show. And forget about any fake fisticuffs with our friend the Blue Devil -- the Standing Man would be way more concerned about keeping his hair in place than fighting. So let's try something else. A giant rose for Rosemont? Too feminine. A big Don Warren head? Too scary. How about one of Warren's trademark cigars? A seven-foot monolith of packed tobacco, complete with arms and legs. He'd look like the guy from the drive-in ad -- the "Let's all go to the snack bar!" giant hot dog, complete with the ability to do back flips. Being one of the only corps from an actual big city, the Boston Crusaders should play up their metropolitan roots. OK, let's get the obvious out of the way: Giant lobster, pot of beans, Paul Revere -- all way overdone. How about Boston Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski? Not a guy in a costume, mind you, but the real Carl Yastrzemski. Anyone in Chicago knows that Ernie Banks is the go-to guy when it comes to a necessary last-minute spokesman for the city, so we hope Yaz would oblige to represent Beantown when needed. According to his official Web site, Yastrzemski is now a roving instructor with the Red Sox. If he doesn't agree to the deal, just tell him there's a kid in Allentown who needs help with his swing. The Cadets? I'll avoid any gratuitous New Jersey jokes -- or is that Pennsylvania -- for now. How about a throwback to Holy Name? Maybe a giant robed priest? A stained-glass window? A giant bingo card? For the Santa Clara Vanguard, I'm thinking three giant letters -- kind of like the Sesame Street letters who run around and form words. Imagine the eruption of laughter when the "V" stands in front of the "S" and "C" with her arms crossed, refusing to budge. The Crossmen already have Bones, so they're all set. Something tells me that he won't be participating in the mock football game between the final corps and finale, though. Perhaps he and Yaz could grimace at each other in the end zone while participating in a tobacco-spitting contest. One thing is certain, in addition to all the wonderful and heartwarming tasks your corps mascot could be a part of during the season, he or she may not be the best person to sit next to on the bus, whether it's with the members or staff. So save a spot in the merchandise vehicle. And when there aren't any crowds to dazzle or judges to mock-harass, all corps will surely benefit from a mascot's main duties: filling water bottles, washing uniforms and sweeping out the gym. Corps thrive thanks to members cut from different cloth Leaf it to Canada to break the monotony of tour Aging out isn't worth the weight The ABCs of drum corps fans Show concept promises all-out KISS and tell Marco Buscaglia marched in the Cavaliers from 1984-1989 and the Cavalier Cadets from 1978-1983. He currently is an editor with Tribune Media Services in Chicago. Marco can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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