July 16, 2023 – Fort Collins, Colorado
It is an absolutely perfect day in Fort Collins. After a hearty Mexican breakfast of Huevos Rancheros, I found the Mason Trail. It is a busy Sunday morning with bikers, runners, and walkers. I strode about at a fast pace for about 30 minutes before stopping at this intersection with signs and benches. Looking at the map, the trails and bike paths in the Fort Collins area are extensive. I observed many seniors riding this morning. Yesterday, I logged about 7 miles of walking. Today will exceed that with an urban adventure in Denver this afternoon before my redeye flight back home to Vermont later this evening. This morning’s walk was to catch some sun and work off that breakfast. This comfortable bench will allow me to continue the story while watching people wiz and stride by.
I left off on the way to the stadium for Drums Along the Rockies yesterday afternoon. While on my way, I serendipitously met John from KHS America, a provider of instruments to several corps. Thank you, John, for your support of youth music education. The stadium announcer warned everyone to move inside as a storm cell approached. But no fear, first, a little tailgate session to gather with some BAC board members and alums outside in lot 210. Thanks, Jeff, for the cold, hoppy beverage and nosh. I am happy to be a BAC interloper/groupie, especially while traveling alone in a foreign land. Well primed, comfortably in my seat at the 50-yard line second row on the second tier well above the field, I settled in for a fantastic night of drum corps. Regrettably, I missed the Battalion due to a dalliance in the lot/lawn.
Kudos to DCI and the corps for their excellent managed show that ran without a hitch from mother nature or electronic issues. Large-scale props, tarps, copious speaker arrays, and trains of percussion instruments wend their way on and off the field. It takes a whole corps to move all that regalia. The appreciative crowd recognized the return of Seattle Cascades. This started my evening of rare entertainment I had traveled so far to enjoy. The Academy, Pacific Crest, and Troopers preceded a needed intermission. Each show gains clarity and recognizability every time it is performed. Departing from their studious look, the Academy paints a pleasing blue picture that soothes the eyeballs. This show will grow on me, and I will begin to understand its meaning. The Troopers, brown and black, evoke the swagger and cocksureness of the Western ethos.
I want to add to the list of drum corps on the rise. Last night, many world-class corps achieved their highest scores in relation to this point in the season, including Pacific Crest, now ranked in the top twelve. Their program is well-conceived, the kids look great, and they perform like a championship night corps. The fans showed their appreciation with a standing ovation. Observing their warm-up in the open field outside the stadium, I observed a certain strive in their approach. Keep pushing, PC, for that Saturday night slot! Another evening standout was the Troopers, garnering a crowd-favorite show again with Lasso the Sun, a logical step in the evolution from their 2022 show. We were reminded, admonished, and shamed into action by the drum major, who vociferously implored us to kick the carbon habit. The corps strives to conquer the problem, inching closer to the seemingly out-of-reach goal of lassoing the sun with each performance. Bravo!
The day turns to night as the stadium lights highlight the colorful and sparkly uniforms on the field. Mandarins’ red and white marchers meld and separate, standing out clearly against the green field. Sinnerman portrays the underside of society with edge and power. They set us up perfectly for the Blue Devils. BD’s style is powerful and sublime, two seemingly opposed concepts. That unique horn sound is captivating. The chronic energy of the marchers and color guard draws you in and takes you for a 13-minute ride that leaves you spent. But, lo. Avast, a ship, is coming in. Its crew is on a quest for the prize. Be it the White Whale or a metallic bauble, no one quite yet knows.
Boston Crusaders performed the show that everyone knew they had in them. The crowd around me responded excitedly and showed their appreciation at several points throughout the show, beginning with their introduction to the field and ending with everyone standing. To my pleasure, Aaron, the drill instructor, joined me for their performance. Having him next to me after observing his rehearsal today was a treat. I could clearly see the results of their work, and he confirmed it with his continuous applause. The maturity of the BAC instructional team is paying off with steady incremental improvements across all captions.
It’s time to check out and figure out what my free day in Colorado will be like. I learned that the BAC kids have the day off and will be in Denver. I will keep my eyes open and keep you posted later.