by Gary Dickelman, DCW staff
On March 27, six alumni drum and bugle corps and three high school groups performed to a sold-out “Cavalcade of Music” crowd in Nutley, NJ. It was the first time since 1972 that Blessed Sacrament hosted a show.
Ironically, this was the first year since 1972 that members of a Blessed Sacrament junior corps from Newark made an appearance. Although they are not yet performing, the youngsters who attend Blessed Sacrament School at Clinton Avenue and Van Ness Place devoted this particular Saturday to finding their way around a drum corps show and visiting their big brothers and sisters, the Golden Knights alumni, who sponsored the show along with the Nutley Music Boosters.
Aside from an after sundown chill that most corps experienced as they ventured outside for a final pre-show rehearsal, it was a perfect drum corps day. The warm weather was enjoyed by all as the Skyliners Alumni, Archer-Epler Musketeers, Reilly Raiders, Yankee Rebels, Light Brigade, Nutley High School units and Blessed Sacrament arrived throughout the day.
My senses were filled with delight and nostalgia as I made my way north on the Garden State Parkway to exit 151. In fact, it was almost surreal. I wish I had a nickel for every time I drove this stretch of road, particularly during my years as a competing Golden Knight.
If it wasn¹t the weekly treks from the home of my youth on the Jersey shore to rehearsals in the south ward of Newark, it was finding my way to the contests that dotted so much of the north Jersey landscape from May to September. It was particularly poignant to pass exit 143 — Clinton Avenue, Irvington/Newark, a milepost familiar to the hundreds who donned the gold, black and white for the 20-plus years that Blessed Sacrament earned its reputation as one of the powerhouses of junior drum corps.
What was so interesting about March 27, 2004, was the number of locals who remembered the glory years and paid their $12.00 to see the Golden Knights and other favorites without batting an eye, as if nothing had changed.
Many familiar faces found their way to my Drum Corps World table, including my former next-door-neighbor, Tom, who I had not seen since 1974. Tom is about 10 years older than me and marched with Our Lady of Good Council of Newark in the 1950s. He took me to see my very first Dream contest in Jersey City when I was 11.
I suppose Tom is responsible for kindling the interest that led to those wonderful years with the Blessed Sacrament junior corps, and now with the alumni corps. Thanks, Tom — for more than I could ever express. It was terrific to see you!
The show kicked off with Eddie Haywar’s solo rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Eddie is one of the Golden Knights’ soprano screechers, a former St. Kevin¹s Emerald Knight. . .