The morning of the second day of the DCI Eastern Classic, the corps from Camden County, New Jersey worked up a special performance for the elderly residents of the Phoebe Allentown Healthcare Center.
The opportunity came together thanks to Mitch Huston, who in addition to working as a sales and marketing director for Phoebe Senior Living, also serves as the chair of the DCI East committee which has long helped Drum Corps International run the annual DCI Eastern Classic competition in Allentown.
“Having known (Jersey Surf executive director) Bob Jacobs for 27 years, I called him and asked him since the corps was going to be utilizing J. Birney Crum Stadium for rehearsal all day what it would take to march the corps up the hill and have them perform for the residents,” Huston said.
With the facility conveniently located across the street from the backside of the stadium, Huston says that Phoebe residents are well-versed in drum and bugle corps, as the sights and sounds of one of Drum Corps International's longest running annual events in August are a familiar occurrence.
“We're right next to the stadium,” Huston said. “The residents have a wonderful balcony off the back of (the independent living building) and they can sit there and watch the show, or they can sit down on the lower end of the parking lot and watch the show as well.”
Breezy, partly cloudy weather set the stage for Jersey Surf's brass and drum line to entertain the residents who gathered on the front lawn of the sprawling facility.
The performance was followed by a quick meet-and-greet between corps members and residents. Jersey Surf drum major Katie Liming said the entire event was a meaningful opportunity that fit right in with the corps' “Share the Love” philosophy.
“It's really pretty humbling,” she said. “There's not as many opportunities to connect with local audiences and community members as one would hope, and the stadium is literally across the street from this residency so it's pretty amazing to be able to perform for them and really plug into the local character.”
Drum major, Katie Liming, of Jersey Surf World Class Drum Corps talks about the unique opportunity the corps had this morning to perform for residents of a local nursing home in Allentown, PA.Posted by Drum Corps International on Saturday, August 5, 2017
Liming said the residents were both impressed and interested in how the performers tackle the season and how the drum corps activity has changed throughout the years.
“I thought (the performance) was wonderful ... It's such a big band,” said Phoebe resident Diane Bolich, who said she has followed drum corps throughout most her life. “I don't think I've ever seen a corps this big.”
Bolich said she loves the idea of having more drum corps brought out to entertain and that it would be well-received by residents in the community — Most of them, anyway.
“That would absolutely be fun if they came and played for us every year,” she said. “I think we would get more people out. But it's hard because it's lunch time, and people don't want to get out if they're afraid they're going to miss lunch.”