by Bill Flaker, DCW staff
DCA President Michael Petrone was honored with a testimonial dinner September 21 with approximately 200 guests in attendance at the Shore Casino. The casino was filled with a who’s who of drum corps legends who came from many areas of the country to honor Petrone for all he has given to the drum corps activity. All of DCA’s officers were in attendance, as was the clergy from St. Vincent’s church that Petrone has been affiliated with through the years. Hall of fame member Bob Neuhoff served as master of ceremonies for the festivities and did an outstanding job.
Frank Gerris of the Hawthorne Caballeros did a video tribute that showed portions of Petrone’s life and family as it took us through his career as a teacher, instructor and DCA president. My compliments to Gerris on his excellent presentation as he was joined by Jim Russo, who presented Petrone with a plaque from the Caballeros. Speeches of tribute were offered by an assortment of speakers from alumni and competing corps. Bob Neuhoff, representing the New York Skyliners Alumni, presented a plaque and words of praise to DCA’s honored guest. Former DCA President George Bull gave a very funny tribute that was filled with many fun jokes and stories of things that happened with Petrone and also presented him with a plaque.
DCA officials Gil Silva and Michael Corso presented Petrone with a gift from the member and affiliate corps of DCA and a plaque honoring his accomplishments. Dr. Almo Sebastianelli, representing the American Legion, presented Mickey with gifts from that organization and words of tribute. Joel Dietz of the Yankee Rebels reflected back with stories from the Dream contests and the March of Champions shows that are legendary with drum corps fans.
I had the honor of sitting at the table with hall of fame members Robert Glovna, Bob Findley, Bob Bradley and their lovely wives. All were members of my home corps, the Connecticut Hurricanes. I also had the pleasure of talking at length with Lois Tieno and Pam Wildfogel of the Reading Buccaneers. Tieno is the support staff coordinator and Wildfogel is on the color guard staff. We exchanged stories from the past season.
The podium was given to the man of the hour as Petrone thanked those in attendance for the honors bestowed upon him. He has been president since 1975 and stressed that teamwork between the corps and DCA has made it the successful organization that it is today. He paid tribute to Russo for all he has given to the drum corps community and wished him well in his new position with Magic of Orlando. He also reflected on the kids that he taught who went on to become a success stories like Frank Gerris and many others. He especially thanked his wife Billie Jean for all her help and support to make DCA what it is today.
Without a doubt this has been the hardest column I have ever had to prepare for Drum Corps World. Shortly before I started this report my wife informed me that Mickey had passed away early Monday morning. He kidded me at the dinner to give him the same good coverage as the DCA corps that I report on and that he would have to enlarge the house for all the plaques he received today. Mickey always helped me with whatever I needed to make my writing assignments easier and to become a better writer. Drum corps has lost a great man, teacher and friend to all who knew him. I am sure that today Mickey, Truman and Vince are exchanging stories of drum corps experiences they have shared in the past. My sincere condolences to Billie Jean on her loss.