Corps were greeted by much more than the sun’s rays on Saturday night during the first DCI Tour event to take place in Florida since 2012.
The DCI Central Florida Premier Event in Lakeland exhibited sold-out stands at Southeastern University, with spectators overflowing into the backfield bleachers.
Heat Wave (2nd, 42.250), hailing from Inverness, Florida, used this event to begin its 2016 season and to headline what will be a series of three shows in its home state—its first opportunity to do since becoming an Open Class corps in 2014.
“Overall it went really well for our first performance of the season,” drum major Jordan Pinchback said. “I think the crowd really enjoyed what we put out.”
Legends also represented DCI’s Open Class division in Lakeland, taking home first place with a score of 53.550.
On the way to Florida, all six competing World Class corps met Friday in Lexington, South Carolina and finished on Saturday with identical placements.
Bluecoats triumphed over the competition once again with its highest score of 2016, recording a first-place finish with 79.000 points. Drum major Samuel Crawford says that much of the corps’ success this season is a result of camaraderie and perseverance.
"This year’s group is so resilient," Crawford said. “We have had a lot of logistical challenges to work through this tour from bus changes to early truck unloads, and it’s just the way that they've bounced back that is unbelievable. I've never seen a group do anything like that."
Following in the Bluecoats’ footsteps, The Cadets (2nd, 76.650) also achieved its highest score of the season.
Crossmen (3rd, 70.100) passed its own scoring milestone on Saturday night, breaking 70 points for the first time this season. Drum major Caitlin Hall said that the corps faced typical Florida weather during its rehearsal earlier this afternoon.
“I think it was the humidity that hit most of us,” Hall said. “But we used it as a hype because it really did feel like home in San Antonio. It made us better honestly."
The Boston Crusaders fell into fourth place with a score of 68.750, but managed to finish in third above the Crossmen in overall General Effect.
Spirit of Atlanta finished in fifth place with 63.200 points, just slightly under its score last night in South Carolina.
Jersey Surf’s (6th, 57.550) ocean-themed production “Ebb & Flow” connected its hometown northern waters to those of the Florida Gulf.
Surf drum major Katie Liming says that her favorite part of the corps’ 2016 production is the ballad. “'Beyond the Sea' just speaks so much to me,” she said. “It connects a little bit to our corps song which is ‘Pure Imagination’ … the idea that there is something intangible beyond everything.”
The DCI Tour will continue its march through Florida this week for two more exciting events. The same lineup of corps featured in Lakeland will make their way south to Jupiter on Monday, July 11, before a final stop in Daytona Beach on Tuesday, July 12; an event that will also be webcast via the DCI Live! streaming video portal.