Strike up the band: Drum and Bugle Corps returns to Wahconah Park
Photo Gallery | Precision and Pageantry Drum and Bugle Corps
PITTSFIELD — The Precision and Pageantry Drum & Bugle Corps competition didn't miss a beat with the 1,400 cheering fans at Wahconah Park Sunday evening.
Four regional marching bands filled the old ball yard with color and sound that brought many to their feet time and time again during the two-hour show.
After a 10 year hiatus, Mary Reilly, of Pittsfield, was thrilled the once yearly event returned to her hometown.
"It's happy music, how can you not like upbeat music," she said. "It's great for Pittsfield to have this back."
As in years past — last held in 2006 — the outdoor musical extravaganza doubles as a fundraiser for the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade Committee as the all-volunteer organization has been making last-minute preparations for today's procession through downtown Pittsfield.
The parade lineup has 174 marching units, including sponsors' banners and four helium balloons that includes the Pittsfield debut of Kung Fu Panda. The roughly two-hour event steps off at 10 a.m. at the South Street/East and West Housatonic streets intersection ending a Wahconah Park, via North Street.
Far from a capacity crowd as Wahconah park holds about 4,000, parade committee president Peter Marchetti was pleased to have surpassed the break-even point of 1,000 ticket sales given only 250 had been sold before Friday. Parade committee volunteers also conducted a 50/50 raffle to bolster the net proceeds from the event.
"We were told we couldn't bring it back— we brought drum corps back to Pittsfield," he told the crowd to open the sow. "Let's start planning for 2017."
The Drum Corps Associates sanctioned competition featured The Bushwackers of Princeton, N.J., Hurricanes from Shelton, Conn. and the host Long Island Sunrisers, who co-organized the show with the parade committee. The Sunrisers placed first, The Bushwackers second, and Hurricanes third.
The fourth drum and bugle corps that performed, Excelsior of Troy, N.Y. got the appreciative crowd warmed up. All preceded by Pittsfield's finest, Eagles Band, which opened with the Star Spangled Banner followed by several patriotic selections.
Sunrisers assistant director, Dave Hobart wasn't surprised by the boisterous reception each band received, having performed as a youth in Pittsfield with a different drum corps.
"In all my years of marching, I remember [Wahconah Park] the most — it's the crowd," he said. "Drum corps is back in Pittsfield."
Molly Daniels, of Albany, N.Y., were looking forward to the show as her 13-year-old daughter Iris was making her debut with Excelsior's color guard.
Were they nervous?
"No, she's going to have fun; I'm going to have fun," said the mother.
Wahconah Park's summer tenants, the Pittsfield Suns baseball team, opened their concession stands serving a steady stream of customers leading up to the show. Suns director of corporate sales, Brian Flagg, was flipping burgers and making french fries to keep up with the hungry throng.
"We're very thrilled and expect this to be a big event," he said.
The crowd will likely be bigger tonight for the traditional fireworks display that follows the Suns home game on July 4. Game time is 7 p.m.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.