Not every competition gives away trophies, one reason being that many corps have no place to put trophies and trophies aren't all that practical. Many shows have taken to giving away things corps can use, and then, some shows give away things that, well ... you be the judge.
Alexis Guzman was a rookie with Raiders in 2002. He remembers that all corps at the Garden State Opener in Haledon, N.J., received a cooler. Actually, that is a participation "award" that has gained favor at a number of shows. Corps use -- and abuse -- coolers every day. I don't know what the lifespan is of a corps cooler, but that's probably another column. (And if anyone has done a statistical analysis out there, please contact me.) Nancy (Scopa) Vetrano marched with rifle with I.C. Reveries from 1970 through 1974 and 27th Lancers from 1976 through 1980 and the 27th Alumni Corps in 1994. She remembers a sort of award to the audience instead of the corps, a raffle down south a week or two before the 1979 DCI World Championships in Birmingham, Ala., where a female won a date with the corps' drum major. (I bet that wasn't in the job description.) Dave Seip is a contra player in Blue Stars. During his rookie year in 2000, the corps received water coolers at two different shows. One was a Powerade cooler that came with a sizeable amount of the powdered drink, some of which was still being used up a year later. The following year, the corps was awarded a large quantity of granola bars. Dave recounts, "We have some in the office still. Those things never quite go away. Man, you can only take so much of that." (Dave, did anyone ever realize that granola bars go down easier with Powerade? Another reason you should read "Fanfare" every week.) In 2000, Blue Stars received a plaque at the West Allis, Wis., Western Days Parade, proclaiming the corps the "best band." Needless to say, that became a running joke for the rest of the season. (About half the jokes I've ever read on RAMD would likely fit here.) One of the strangest awards must be the one that was awarded to Coachmen at the 1990 New Baltimore Fishfly Festival Parade. (Try saying that ten times fast.) According to someone who only identified themselves as Jas. C.D., (a tenor and snare drummer for Coachmen from 1988 through 1990, and snare drummer for Rapid City Express in 1991), the corps won ... the previous year's Fishfly Festival Parade trophy. It turned out the corps won the trophy the year before and didn't even know it. (Don't you hate it when that happens?) But for sheer wackiness, it is hard to beat the participation "trophy" given to all corps at a competition in Valdosta, Ga., in 1984 ... a single large watermelon. Steve Sorrell, Spirit of Atlanta drum major, remembers the melon well, because, in his own words, "I had to carry the damn thing." (Steve, did you forget that rank has its privileges?) There might be a watermelon "thing" going on in the activity, and maybe we should look into this more. Ron Housley, brass instructor for the Lynwood Diplomats, presented a large watermelon to corps brass player Wayne Bergeron, a member of the corps' brass line, at the 1971 California American Legion State Championship retreat ceremony. Wayne had to carry the melon off the field. We're not going to find out anything more about this, as Ron says, "It's still a secret known only to the members of the 1971 Lynwood Diplomats." (Add that one to the mystery of who really was Deep Throat during the Watergate years.) Jonathon Brown is a 19-year-old, three-year member of the Seattle Cascades guard. Last season, the corps was staying "somewhere" in New York. He adds, "It all gets to be a blur, you know. The contest gave the corps this box full of some kind of powdered drink substance. That might seem odd, but not to drum corps kids. Lo and behold, the next day at lunch something OTHER than lemonade or water was coming out of the side of the cook truck. It was green! I can't tell you how excited we were to be drinking something DIFFERENT for once. That stuff was completely gone by the end of the day. I always thought it was funny that a green drink just MADE our day. Oh, the small joys you find on tour." (You take what you can get. I've heard of being easy to please, but ...) Chris Barrick is a member of Jersey Surf. He remembers that local newspapers were donated to all the corps during retreat at the Eastern Classic at Philadelphia's Franklin Field. Chris recalls, "It was nice to read, given that we didn't know what was going on in the world." (Chris, world events are highly overrated.) He adds, "Also, in 2002 we played an impromptu concert in a restaurant in Madison for the use of their University of Wisconsin flag during a portion of our show. The flag was used in addition to some University of Wisconsin foam finger things during the section of our show that represented sports, and during our finals performance, we performed 'On Wisconsin,' which the corps first did in 1999 as a warm-up." (All that controversy over amplification, and here foam fingers slipped right past us.) Mike Bonfig marched Northmen in the early 1990s. One of the most practical items he remembers the corps getting was cases of field paint and a field liner. But one of the niftiest things I've ever heard being done for corps was when the people of Rome, N.Y., brought all the corps in town for the show to various local banquet halls and fed them all lunch. Now that is truly a nice gesture. (If you see me around this summer, I can be yours for dinner for the price of, well, dinner.) Melissa Gilmartin marched Blue Devils and was educated in El Paso, Texas, about the local candy. The show gave the corps many boxes of candy that looked like Sweet Tarts. According to Melissa, "I passed up the candy in the food line, because I thought it wouldn't be anything special. But my bus partner knew about the candy, and grabbed nine boxes and saw fit only to share a few pieces with me." (That's a sure test of a deeper problem.) Melissa continues, "We were given a pi?±ata in San Antonio that was in the shape of a bull. It sat in the hallway the whole time we were in San Antonio. We set out plates on top of it as if it was a table. Finally, someone decided to split it open, and it had lots of that same candy in it, in purple boxes. I think they were called Zaps. I thought it was cool that we would be given a pi?±ata." (Darn right. No one ever gave me a pi?±ata.) Dawn Estep marched contra in Colts last year and is playing contra in Glassmen this year. She remembers that in 2000, when she was marching with Americanos, a show somewhere in New Jersey donated something like 50 pounds of cucumbers and 50 pounds of tomatoes. She asks, and I'm afraid not hypothetically, "Do you know how many different things you make that consist of tomatoes, cucumbers, and different kinds of cheeses? Oh, we found out. Cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers and Italian dressing ... we had that like every day for a week." (There's a diet going around that consists of the same food items, but it's only for people who are secure in their will to live.) Fran Haring has been known as an announcer at various east coast junior and senior corps shows since 1983, including the DCA Championships. Back when Fran marched Sunrisers (1977-1982) in 1982, "the FX Matt Brewing Company of Utica, New York gave out Matt's Beer Balls, those plastic beer-filled 'party balls' with a pour spout that are used like kegs by college kids. These were caption award trophies for a show in Rome, New York." (What a cool town that must be. I want to go there. Remember lunch in the banquet halls?) "Westshoremen tied Sunrisers for one of the captions, and they had to figure out who would get that particular beer ball, since it couldn't be cut it in half." (Where is King Solomon when you really need him?) Andrea Birbilis, Program and Staff Coordinator for Racine Scouts, remembers Guardsmen receiving a gold painted brick as a trophy at a Drums Across Oz show in 1980, (probably referring to the song, Follow the Yellow Brick Road). Supposedly, the brick ended up in the backyard of the corps' director, and it became extremely popular with his dog, more so than any of the yard's trees. (You know how some say dogs take on the personalities and habits of their owners? You think they learn this stuff on their own?) There's no "award" associated with this story, but Andrea also remembers a show that the corps performed at in Michigan named the Pickerel Festival. The guys in the corps were excited about meeting the Pickerel Queen at the parade, while Andrea couldn't figure out why any self-respecting young woman would want to have a title that proclaimed her as queen of fish. (Well, people do sign up to appear on the Maury Povich Show.)