Garry Parker marched with Velvet Knights from 1970 through 1973, and is currently director of the SoCal Dream senior corps. This is a story of how he fell in love with drum corps all over again and how he fell in love with his future wife, who also marched in a corps. [pic_1]In the future, a number of "Drum Corps as a Love Connection" stories will be shared in "Fanfare," courtesy of the contributions of several readers of, RAMD and Drum Corps Planet, readers that responded to a request for such stories. In 1979, Garry had long been aged-out from Velvet Knights and was enjoying being a drum corps spectator. But, he felt he needed something to channel his competitive side, so he got into riding show horses. There were no senior corps in California yet. He was on a tour that would take him to Tennessee, and he knew VK was going to the show in Sevierville, Tenn., that summer, so he made arrangements to meet the corps there. At least, that was the plan. While on the horse show tour, he met another rider who talked him into going to New York with him. (The other rider was going to visit his parents.) Since Garry knew VK would be at a show in Paramus, N.J., he accepted the ride and ended up at the site of a show that had just been cancelled. So, he was now 3,000 miles from home, with no corps to meet. However, the corps still hadn't hit the Sevierville site. After taking a shuttle bus to JFK Airport, he stood in the terminal, looking at his options. "LA ... Knoxville ... LA ... Knoxville ... Gimme a one-way ticket to Knoxville!" (Knoxville, Tenn., was the closest airport to Sevierville.) This required a flight to Atlanta, transferring to Chattanooga, Tenn., then on to Knoxville, before making it downtown to the Greyhound station, riding a bus to Sevierville, and getting a ride from the station to Sevier County High School, where he would meet VK. (Right now, a number of you are thinking, "Hey, I've done that sort of thing many times to get to a corps or a show." And if you have, please send in your memories of strange travel arrangements. Contribution information is at the bottom of this column.) Garry went on the rest of the tour, primarily serving as a volunteer equipment truck driver and quartermaster. And since the corps only had two drum instructors on tour, he was allowed to fill in as a bass drum tech. He finished the tour through North Carolina, Georgia and DCI Worlds in Birmingham, Ala., and drove the equipment truck back to LA in just 48 hours. The next year, he was offered an instructor's position, stayed on from 1980 through 1984 as a percussion tech to help remake Velvet Knights into the competitive unit everyone remembers, and served as director of the VK "B" Corps in 1985. It would have been so much easier to just fly back to LA. As Garry explains the whole scenario, "What some people will do for a free ticket to finals! "       Now about his "Love Connection." In Garry's words, "A Velvet Knight drummer and a Phantom Regiment guard girl ... who'da thunk? "I met Jan through RAMD, posting in response to her comments, or her responding to mine. I found out she marched some of my favorite performances with Regiment at the same time I was on staff with VK. She loved the zaniness that we injected into the serious world of drum corps ... and NO one was more serious about it than John Brazale's guard! "Once, she remarked on some Jimmy Buffett/junior mints comment I made. I wrote her an e-mail asking if she'd like to go to the Jimmy Buffett concert. I had an extra ticket. Her work schedule didn't allow that first face-to-face meeting (she's a flight attendant for United), but the trip she made the day of the concert took her to New Orleans. While there, she went to Buffett's Margaritaville Cafe and picked me up a souvenir T-shirt. "So, no meeting, yet, but it opened the door to more communication. E-mails progressed to instant messaging, where we learned more about each other. In the meantime she was 'checking me out' through RAMD friends we had in common. One of them told her, 'Go for it!' "Eventually, she gave me her phone number and I called her. The first time I heard her voice, I had a 'Wow!' moment. We continued phoning, e-mailing and instant messaging until her job brought her to Southern California one evening. We had planned a date, and after we met at her hotel ('Wow!' moment number 2), we headed for Westwood Village to see the film "Pearl Harbor." Unfortunately it was too late for the last show, so we headed to Century City, where she knew of a couple more theaters. "We picked up a couple of tickets to "Shrek," (good first date test ... does she have a sense of humor?), then had a quick dinner before the movie. (Good date test number 2, do you have compatible tastes?) We both enjoyed an excellent deli dinner, and then headed for the movie. "We had a good time, but even after the first date she was still wondering if I'd ever call her again. I had no doubt! She was awesome! "It's been almost two years, we're still going strong, and planning a wedding within two years. Oh, and we're running a senior corps together. I'm her boss as the director but yield to her considerable experience in color guard, which she instructs as caption head. "Drum corps introduced us, but it's the constant sharing of life outside corps that keeps us learning and appreciating each other more every day. We love drum corps, but we adore each other. "She's the best!" Hey, Garry, be sure to send us some photos from the wedding so we can do a follow-up. More "Drum Corps as a Love Connection" stories will follow.
Calling All Readers: Please send in your memories of strange travel arrangements for a future "Fanfare" column. Send your contribution to Michael Boo at Please put "Strange travel" in the subject heading at the top of your e-mail. Include your name, hometown, corps affiliation (if applicable) and years marching with or working with the corps (if applicable). No anonymous comments, please. You will be credited for your contribution. Many thanks.