Drum Corps International
Planning a competition

Planning a competition

by Michael Boo

This is the time of the year when DCI tour and event partners (show sponsors) really start revving up the engines in anticipation of the drum corps contests that they will soon be hosting. Here are some thoughts from Mike Pease, chairman of the Cavaliers' Pageant of Drums in Michigan City, Ind., an event that is entering its 44th year. Michigan City has hosted drum corps shows since 1960. Over the years, the city welcomed the corps with open arms. I became involved with the Michigan City, Ind., show in 1998 after writing a letter to the newspaper about drum corps. My phone started ringing. Can you help us? People in the area knew I have been involved in drum corps for many years (since 1969) ... mostly as a spectator. I had joined the local Maple City Cadets in 1969 and marched through 1971 and have been hooked ever since. The Michigan City Summer Festival committee and the Cavaliers were looking for someone to act as chairman of this cooperative effort between the two groups. Of course I said yes. Now, what did I get myself involved with? The Michigan City Summer Festival is a month-long party for the entire family. The drum corps show is one of our major events and helps fill four consecutive weekends of big fun. We have one of the biggest parades around (prior to the show), as well as a classic car cruise, spectacular fireworks show, music festival, pancake breakfasts, fish fries -- something for everyone. A couple of years ago, we were asked if we could move our show date back two weeks. This was really not a problem, so we shifted the festival back and everything worked out great. The planning starts in October in Michigan City. The schools and football stadium are reserved for possible dates. By the first week of December, we have a final date and most of the line-up in place. I always ask for a nine or ten corps lineup and usually we get that, although two years ago, I had 12 corps. As the snow flies I work on which corps will work with which school. In Michigan City, all of our schools have good shower facilities and the school system is very cooperative with what needs to be done. During the winter I work on the ticket sales, advertising and rounding up volunteers for the big night. Many of my volunteers come from community groups such as the Exchange Club, YMCA, Honor Students, friends, etc. The team is a wonderful group effort between the City of Michigan City, (mayor, police, fire, EMTs, school system), Summer Festival Committee, the Cavaliers, volunteers and the business community. As we get closer to show time, the information packets for the corps are sent out through the Cavaliers' office. These include maps to schools, stadium, emergency information, motel, restaurant, bank and grocery information, etc. Usually about six corps participate in the parade prior to the show. This involves a whole different set of potential problems involving moving the corps through town on a day when the city is packed with many people on this "big day." Many people don't realize that while they are sleeping the night prior to the show, I, along with some great volunteers, are working all night to get all of the corps into the schools and settled. This goes on from about 10 p.m. to 5 or 6 a.m. I think most school administrators worry somewhat about theft in the schools. I've never had any problems in Michigan City. I think that shows the quality of kids and staff involved in the drum corps activity. They're a great bunch. Are the fields mowed for rehearsals? Is there enough hot water? Do the drivers have a private area away from the corps activity? Is there enough electricity to run the kitchen truck? The police and fire departments know the corps are in town, but sometimes an accidental alarm goes off. Oh boy, what else? Is the stadium ready? At times judges have to be shuttled in and out of area airports. Are there chairs for judges and staff, as well as our handicapped guests? Are concessions ready? Is there plenty of ice and water for the corps as well as the judges and field staff? Is first aid set up? We get great help from the American Red Cross. Many area businesses help provide things I need. Whew! As you can see, there is much to do and it is really a team effort involving many people. I've dealt with lost equipment trucks, broken-down refrigeration units, sick kids, you name it. But in the end, somehow it all comes together. The problems of equipment breakdowns keep me on edge. The Troopers had bus problems one year en route to Michigan City. Once they made it here and I got them into a school, they had to wait for another bus to arrive (from the Colts). We stored the Troopers' bus for a month until they could get it back on the road. In 1998, the General Butler Vagabonds were in town and offered a performance in exchange for housing. But by the time they were to perform they had 15 sick kids and we thought it best they not do the concert so the kids could rest. One corps had a medical emergency while coming through Wisconsin and the only vehicle they could spare was the kitchen truck. When they arrived in town I arranged with a local grocer to provide breakfast foods for the corps. Their kitchen truck caught up four hours later. Besides the show, Michigan City provides a central stopover site for corps while on tour. I usually have three or four corps come into town during the tour to rest and rehearse. We are able to provide accommodations to any corps that needs it at any time while on tour, at no cost to the corps. With the city centrally located in the Midwest, many corps have found us to be a hospitable community where they could come and rehearse, rest, resupply the kitchens, etc., while on tour. In the past several years, I've hosted the Santa Clara Vanguard, Troopers, Pioneer, Kiwanis Kavaliers, Bluecoats, Bandettes, Dutch Boy and General Butler Vagabonds during stopovers. The Troopers and Kiwanis Kavaliers gave free performances to the community as a way of saying thanks for providing a stopover site. Let's see, is that it? Man it gets busy, but I love it. [The following is from an e-mail that Mike sent immediately after the 2003 Pageant of Drums.] Whew! What a day! This year's school renovations posed some problems. Many of our usual housing sites could not be used. The main problems were from lack of adequate showers and having to double up corps for housing. Next year we'll have all of the schools back and most will be air-conditioned. The weather was a factor, as Friday night storms knocked out power at two of my schools. Lake Erie Regiment had some bus problems and had to spend an extra night. We're working on getting them back on the road today. Thanks to one of our area businesses, they're working on the bus and they should be heading to Dixon, Ill., soon. I thought everything at the stadium went well and we were just a little short of a sell-out. There are 3,000 front side seats at Ames Field. I hope all the corps left Michigan City knowing that the community can come together and help solve any problems the corps might have. TEAMWORK! Mike Pease
Chairman, Cavaliers' Pageant of Drums Fanfare archives Michael Boo has been involved with drum and bugle corps since 1975, when he marched his first of three seasons with the Cavaliers.

He has a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition.
   
He has written about the drum corps activity for over a quarter century for publications such as Drum Corps World, and presently is involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. Michael currently writes music for a variety of idioms, is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes. But more than anything, Michael is proud to love drum corps and to be a part of the activity in some small way, chronicling various facets of each season for the enjoyment of others.