Trisha Longo remembers the 1996 Drum Corps International World Championship when the Phantom Regiment won its first championship title in a tie with the Blue Devils. In 1996, some close friends and I went to the DCI World Championships in Orlando, Fla. It was a super week, and close friend Steve Burstall and I loved the Phantom Regiment and their show that year. I had teased him all year in 1995 when we attended the DCI World Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. with the following line, "I'll never be present at a DCI World Championship to see Regiment win its first title."
Through Quarterfinals and Semifinals, we knew there was something special in that show and the music. I took pictures for the Regiment yearbook and I will never, ever, forget the announcement at Finals during the finale. "In second place... (long, dramatic, almost excruciating pause) ... which is actually...a tie for..." I couldn't hear the rest. The place was electric! Listen to the announcement of the top scores from the 1996 World Championships. (MP3) Our whole section of Regiment boosters and fans went absolutely ballistic. I had my camera in hand, appearing dejected and not even looking at the field thinking that Phantom had once again come within a hair of capturing that elusive trophy, when I yelled to Steve next to me, "That figures. You gotta be kidding me! A tie?" I was looking down, fiddling with my camera and huge zoom lens when—of all people—a Blue Devils fan grabbed me and shook me by the shoulders, screaming, "They did it! They finally did it! They won!" I was looking around like an idiot thinking, "How in God's name can there be a tie for the winner? There's never been a tie!" As I looked at Phantom on the field in their finale retreat block, I knew instantly—by the elation of the staff jumping around on the field—that my ultimate dream as a fan, booster and volunteer had come true.
Phantom Regiment had finally won a DCI World Championship, and I was there to hear and see it! To add to the bittersweet victory, I was in uncontrollable tears as the moment was even more special for me. I had secretly co-sponsored a six-year Phantom Regiment veteran member named Scott Bouton, who if he hadn't had some financial help, would not have been able to march his age-out year with the corps and would have lost out on that magical once-in-a-lifetime performance. After all the scores were announced with tears still streaming down my face, I was able to join Regiment fans, staff and alumni on the field for the victory encore performance. I searched and searched, but could not locate Scott in that on-field sea of humanity. I located Bill Riebock of Regiment's management team who directed me to the parking lot. There Scott was! It should be known that I did not want to meet him until after Finals to keep my identity and my sponsorship anonymous. Upon being introduced to him, we exchanged hellos and hugs and congratulations, and then he looked at me misty-eyed and asked, "How can I ever thank you for this?" I picked up the World Championship medal that proudly hung from his neck, smiled and said, "You already have!" He hugged me again and we hung out on the field until Regiment massed for their portion of the encore performance show with Blue Devils. We then found our way to the buses. They departed as champions, and I was finally able to feel the pride of knowing I had helped make the experience possible for a young man in my favorite corps. I haven't seen Scott since, but I know he's out there, reliving that championship performance to this day.
Here's a photo of both us on the field together that night, taken just after our initial meeting. It hangs with my ticket stub and field pass in a decorative frame in my office. It's my all-time favorite drum corps memory.

Editorial assistance by Michael Boo. Fanfare archives