“We wanted to present a show that all Cavaliers and the drum and bugle corps community would be proud of and look to as an example of the lifelong commitment to our very special activity,” says Chris Hartowicz, the anniversary corps director.
Bringing the alumni together had several purposes aside from just reconnecting with past members, he adds. “We also wanted to use this opportunity to jumpstart an endowment fund to ensure the long-term stability of The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps.”
At the 60th Anniversary celebration, The Cavaliers received pledges for $567,000 over the next five years.
The 60th anniversary plans were started with a very small steering committee in the fall of 2004. Former Executive Director Jeff Fiedler handled the corps organization, Paul Milano took on the endowment fund and Chris Hartowicz stepped into the director position for the Anniversary Corps.
“We solicited more and more people to take on specific tasks, including the equipment and uniform partners of The Cavaliers, who all were very enthusiastic to help in any way they could,” Hartowicz says. “One of the ways we crossed the communication gaps was with modern communication methods. We were able to use our alumni website, splooie.org, to post instructions, updates, locations and also use password-protected websites to post music as well as drill charts.”
Designing a commemorative anniversary show is no easy task. The details of the design of the program were pretty delicate. How do you represent 60 years of history, including the five championship titles from 2000 to 2006?
Hartowicz explains, “we decided to present glimpses, moments, rather than a truly authentic representation of each era and the blend of old and new proved to be fun for both the audience and for us to perform.”
Sam Geati, who played percussion for The Cavaliers Anniversary Corps, reflected on his decision to march after his five years as a member of the Cavaliers in the 1950’s.
“I was most concerned with the biggest obstacle for someone my age; memorizing the music and drill,” Geati says. “At age 70, your memory tends to desert you frequently. This was by far the most challenging part of this experience. Most importantly, I got to perform for my family and my 91-year-old mother, who got to see her ‘boy’ march once more as a Cavalier.”
The bonding across generations knew no bounds. After one rehearsal, two mellophone players, one who marched in the first Cavaliers VFW National Championship in 1957 and the other who aged out as a DCI champion in 2004, were still on the field helping each other learn their marching drill dots.
“It was a moment I’ll cherish for the rest of my life,” Hartowicz says. “Being part of something that helped connect the generations in our very special fraternity.”