First, I would like to put a disclaimer on all of my March columns: They may not be great. They may not be long. But I'll give it my best. It's March and in the advertising world that means early mornings and every night is a late night.
Anyway: Before we know it, the Easter Bunny will be here. I hope everyone had a visit from the Easter Bunny growing up. Around this time, I always remember the Valentine's Day bunny that I had as a child. The Valentine's Day Bunny wasn't at the mall and I never got a picture with him. According to my mother, the Valentine's Day Bunny would come during the night, similar to Santa Claus, and leave me a Valentine's Day present, to let me know that someone always loved me. I thought it was the coolest thing. I got a present on Valentine's Day. I was elated every February 14 when the Bunny would come and leave me something fun like a heart-shaped note pad or a plastic bead bracelet. I would immediately brag to all my friends about how the Valentine's Day Bunny came and left me a present. The Valentine's Day Bunny never came to any of my friends' houses. I didn't think much of it at the time. I just thought that everyone else wasn't as cool as me to get a present on Valentine's Day. I'm older now, a lot older since the last time the Valentine's Day Bunny came, but I still get a present from my mom every year. Apparently, when I was younger, my mother had the neighborhood moms calling her asking her all about the Valentine's Day Bunny. Their children had become upset because the bunny didn't visit them. It's something my mom started and I'll probably start it with my kids one day. We all have different family traditions. At Christmas, families may go caroling. Maybe going to the beach every Labor Day is your family tradition. It would be hard to find one family that doesn't have a single tradition. Traditions are held on to and passed down year to year. Traditions are what can keep us together through anything that life throws at us, especially during the summer. Since the Bluecoats can no longer play our corps song, "Autumn Leaves," in the parking lot after retreat, the horn line has decided to play it after the final run-through of the day. They said it was their way of thanking the color guard and drum line for all of our hard work throughout the day. More times than not, as I picked up my equipment, I would stop for a second and listen. My worst days were made better because I finally heard something that started so long ago. I finally knew that what I was doing, despite the bruises, the emotionally and physically draining days, were not just for me but for all the alumni before me and my drum corps family. We sing "Autumn Leaves" now after shows instead of playing it. I think I've sang the whole thing through maybe three times. I would get a little emotional and not make it through "I'll miss you most of all, my darling, when autumn leaves start to fall," which is the last phrase of the song. I don't know how many drum corps have actual words to their corps song that they learn every year, but it was the best resolution to the "No parking lot playing" rule we could find in 2002. I would be disappointed when the rookies by the fifth show would still not know the words. We were passionate in 2002 about learning every single word. We wrote it down time, after time, after time, like in an elementary spelling list. We were determined to start something new. Traditions are what make a drum corps complete. Everything can change in a summer. The staff, uniforms, drill, music, counts, step size, work, beats, notes -- everything can change, and it probably will, but the one thing that carries on are traditions. What would happen if you returned to your drum corps and nothing was left? Maybe the only thing left is the corps director and the uniform. Would the traditions carry on or would the administration decide that the old way is in the past, and it's time for change. What would keep the corps together? Without traditions, there wouldn't be much left that could bring 135 different people from different places together for a common cause. For those seeking tradition, you need to find your Ken Fanti. He's the one stop for all Bluecoats history. I think every corps has one Ken Fanti. Most importantly, don't lose the traditions. Stick up for what you believe is the bond that holds everyone together. Help your fellow corps member learn the traditions that make each corps specialized. Don't lose your Valentine's Day Bunny. Becky Novac currently lives in Hoboken, N.J., and works for Universal McCann in New York City as an assistant media planner. She is 22 years old and a recent graduate from Penn State University where she majored in journalism and psychology. Becky marched with the Bluecoats in 2000, 2002 and 2004 as a member of the color guard.