A Phantom Renaissance: The “Countdown to 50” campaign

by Christopher Atkinson, DCW staff

Phantom Regiment (Rockford, IL)
Photo by David Rice

This season, drum corps fans have been thrilled to see the remarkable resurgence of the Phantom Regiment. The brilliant design of the corps’ show has impressed audiences literally from ocean to ocean. The sound of the custom-made King horns and the classic, sparkling look of the new Stanbury uniforms evoke great Regiment corps of years past. The organization has slowly but surely brought itself up in terms of design and performance excellence over the past several years, and has arrived back in the thick of DCI Championship contention.

Anyone associated with the Regiment will tell you that it has been a long, often difficult road to travel. The corps had its share of financial woes at the close of the 1990s. Equipment found itself in disrepair, and horns were aging and in need of replacement. There was talk of debt and lack of fundraising. The corps was experiencing many of the same sorts of problems that plague drum corps in general, notably the pressure of mounting debt, a confused approach to the financial health of the group and a fundamental lack of monetary inflow into the corps.

One might not initially remember that the bright, shining example of esprit de corps and tradition that stands before you as the 2003 edition of the corps would have never taken the field had it not been for sound financial judgment and a strategic plan for attaining specific goals. With this mood of resurgence surrounding the corps, it is important to note that all the problems have not gone away for the corps, despite outward appearances and competitive success.

Presently, the corps is undertaking a capital campaign to address some of its more pressing demands, while at the same time expanding its programs to serve more young people and play an even greater role in the Rockford community. The corps is choosing to meet its problems head-on and is flatly refusing to allow itself to become underfunded, irrelevant, or worse. It is doing so under the careful guidance of an outstanding board of directors, who collectively provide an excellent example of effective drum corps management.

Greg Newell is vice president of the Phantom Regiment board of directors. He played baritone in the corps in 1988 and 1989. Newell, a Michigan native, moved to Loves Park, IL, in the summer of 1998. He got more involved in the corps in 1999 and was elected to the board of directors in June 2000. He was voted vice president in July 2003. He serves as the corps’ development director, Webmaster and public relations/communications person. When he’s not doing something for the Phantom Regiment, Newell works as assistant sports editor at the Rockford Register Star. He has been married 11 years to his wife, Teresa. They have an “annoying” cat, Lois, and a “mellow” bullmastiff, Ember.

Drum Corps World: What is Countdown to Fifty? What goals has the corps set for this campaign?
Greg Newell: Countdown to Fifty is a three-year campaign leading up to the Phantom Regiment’s 50th anniversary in 2006. A goal of $500,000 has been set. The purpose is to secure the future of the Phantom Regiment and enable it to be an even more significant part of the Rockford and Loves Park community…

For the rest of this article and much more, pick up a copy of the August 8, 2003, issue of Drum Corps World, or subscribe by clicking on the link below