Photo by Jolesch Photography and courtesy of WGI Sport of the Arts
After a second-place finish in the 2008 WGI Independent World Class Championships where the group posted the second highest score in its 25-year history, the Pride of Cincinnati Winter Guard has announced that it will take a year off in 2009, with plans to return for the 2010 season.
The board of directors announced the decision in early May and pointed to the group’s financial challenges as the cause. A 2007 law in Ohio banning smoking in public places made a substantial negative impact on the group’s bingo revenues, which subsequently dropped by 31%, according to a press release. The board came to the decision that, for the sake of the group’s long-term stability, it would forgo the 2009 season to create a sound financial base.
“Since the beginning of 2007, our bingo profits just haven’t been there,” says assistant director Toni Twaddell, who has been involved with the organization since she marched with the drum corps in 1982. “We decided that instead of going out there and spending all of our savings or spending everything on one big year in 2009 … we’d take a year off and try to get things back on track. We basically did it for the longevity of the organization.”
Pride of Cincinnati has taken two other absences from competition in the past—in 1995 and most recently in 2000, when the group returned to win the world championship in 2001.
“Of course our first and foremost goal is to be back in 2010,” Twaddell says. “Our secondary goal is to develop some additional revenue sources in addition to our bingo. One of our main goals always is maintaining the quality of the organization and the future of the organization. We want it to be around for decades and decades to come.”
According to Twaddell, members of the group have moved on to find ways to express themselves without Pride in 2009. Six of the group’s members received the opportunity to perform in 2009 with Aimachi, a Japanese winter guard. Aimachi and Pride have enjoyed a close relationship throughout the years, largely through use of the same design and technical staffs.
“I’m kind of going in there with no expectations and saying I’m ready to experience all of it,” says Travis Speice, who will join Aimachi after three seasons with Pride. “They’re excited to show us their country. Everything about their culture will be completely new to us. I think that probably the most exciting part is all of that, getting to see the culture and go through some of the challenges that we’ve seen people go through when they come to be with Pride. I’ve always admired Aimachi in their performance ability; they’re always a crowd favorite.”
For more information, visit www.prideofcincinnati.com.