Drum Corps International
Pit stop: The Friendliest and hardest-working people I've ever met

Pit stop: The Friendliest and hardest-working people I've ever met

by Drum Corps International

This week on DCI.org, we'll be focusing some editorial firepower on anecdotes and stories related to front ensembles. Think back to those formative, funny, inspiring or memorable front ensemble stories and send them in! They can be as long or as short as you would like. Attach a picture of yourself or the situation you're writing about if you can. And by all means, pass this on to your pit-lurking friends! We'll edit these stories for clarity, grammar and appropriateness. If you have a pit-related anecdote or story, send it to content@dci.org.







My name is Patty Plan, and I aged out as Crossmen's pit section leader last summer. My two years with the Crossmen pit provided me with many memories that were unique to our section, both good and bad. However, without both, I don't think that my experience would have been complete. The things that I remember the most fondly usually had to do with everything that happened off of the field. I found that the people in the front ensembles of all corps were usually some of the friendliest and hardest-working people I've ever met. Here are some of the "behind-the-scenes" anecdotes that make me fondly reminisce about my marching days:



We had an instructor who had a habit of scheduling inspirational talks whenever we lost focus or if we needed motivation before important shows. The first picture (top left) shows one such talk by Mr. Steve Ballard immediately before finals retreat in 2003. However, the one talk that truly affected me happened on the night before finals in 2002 -- my rookie year. I did not realize how much I grew as both a performer and a person until that night before finals. Our instructor dragged the section out of the gym right before lights out because he wanted to have another talk. All 10 of us ended up staring at the starry, Wisconsin sky, sharing not only our accomplishments of the summer, but our life goals as well. At that point, I knew that my front ensemble experience that year was worth every minute and that I gained friends for life.



A lot of the best memories came with the events that the rest of the corps dreaded -- parades. Instead of getting a free day, we became the official water boys! The second picture (top right) shows Crossmen's current pit section leader, David Champagne, taking a quick picture break with the crowd in the middle of last year's July 4th parade in Bristol, RI . We also had the responsibility of fighting off the angry onlookers who wanted the corps to "PLAY SOMETHING!" It was always a lot of fun for us to give back to the rest of the drum line by giving them frozen lemonade instead of water during the parades. My favorite memories were of the times we needed to fill the water coolers with garden hoses from houses along the parade route, then getting an ovation from the crowd while we sprinted 50 yards with 20-gallon coolers to catch up with the group.



Something else that usually set us apart from the rest of our corps was our camaraderie among all of the other corps' pits. The third picture (middle right) shows some of both the Cadets' and the Crossmen's pit last year at Epcot -- one big, happy family. At every show, no matter what, you always knew that if you were having trouble with your equipment, a member from another pit would be more than happy to help you if you need it. This was especially true in 2003 with all of the freak monsoons.



Speaking of weather, that's another thing that made the pit experience unique. The fourth picture (middle left) shows a few of the pit ladies (left to right: Stephanie Womack, Megan McCarthy, Jennie Herreid and Patty Plan) trying to dry off after loading the truck after they cancelled the Pascagoula, Miss., show last summer due to the number of tornados in the area. You could not just throw your instrument onto the bus or under a towel. The rest of the corps would be already in ensemble indoors, and the pit would still be outside, either flying away because we were trying to tarp and bungee thousands of dollars of equipment or our wheels would be stuck in the mud.



However, I think one of the best things about being in the pit is the interaction and closeness you have with the audience and each other. The last picture (bottom) shows my view of the crowd from the 50-yard line, on the front sideline. It was my final standing ovation before aging out. Being surrounded by 134 of my best friends while looking up at thousands of screaming fans will always be my favorite pit memory.

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