Legendary CMCC Warriors alumni host second annual gala and awards night

‚ÄčThe New York Warriors Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps held its cornerstone fund-raising event November 5.  It was a rainy fall day that coincided with the New York City Marathon only a block away, but the dismal weather and the traffic did not affect the beautiful gala held at the Lt. J. P. Kennedy Center in Harlem. This was the second annual dinner and awards night attended not only by Warriors alumni and their families, but also former members of present and past power corps, including the Bayonne Bridgemen, Westchester Brassmen and Director Joseph Mazzullo, Hawthorne Caballeros, Carter Cadets, Norwich Firettes, Morrisanian Lancers, Brooklyn Privateers, New York Skyliners, the PAL Travelers, as well as the New York City Housing Authority Vanguard, just to name a few. All showed up in their Sunday best to reminisce, celebrate the drum corps activity, honor a few folks and enjoy each other’s company.  Over 100 people from all over the East Coast packed the auditorium of the Kennedy Center to honor Mark Finkle, Bobby Winslow and James Cooke.  These three men dedicated their lives to drum corps as well as to the betterment of all people who came in contact with them throughout their many years in and out of this activity.Mark Finkle (left) was a music teacher for the New York City Board of Education starting in 1969 and was also the founder of the Apollo 8 Cadet Unit that continued to assist in recruiting membership for the New York Knickerbockers as well as the New York Lancers.  He served as business manager of the New York Lancers and assisted Director Carmelo Saez in acquiring the corps’ own buses through grants.  Mr. Finkle then became business manager for the Warriors starting in 1980 and helped them to purchase their own buses as well.  This is how Mark got his nickname “Skipper.”  He showed his fondness and appreciation for the Warriors by giving back to the audience that evening a demonstration of his present work singing for many charities like the Boys & Girls Club at his home in The Villages in Florida.  He delighted the crowd with his singing of the song I (Who Have Nothing), an apropos vocal selection, with English lyrics by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and music by Carlo Donida. The next honoree was Bobby Winslow (left), the innovative drum instructor, who was way ahead of his time during the late 1960s and 1970s.  He was a champion individual snare drummer who won three gold medals during his days with Brooklyn’s Privateers.  One of these medals was over the well-known Billy Cobham who placed second behind Bobby.  Robert’s rhythms were based on his wisdom.  He studied at the Manhattan School of Music and The Jazz Mobile.  He was the first percussionist to break the color line in the world famous New York Skyliners.  When Bobby was teaching the Warriors, he was younger than some of the students he taught, but he flourished as an instructor because he was always kind, smart and confidant.  In his acceptance speech, he really made a case for the need of a drum corps in the African-American community.  He has always been a proponent for the combination of people of color and the wonderfully educational world of drum and bugle corps.  As he stated, the two go together so well that they both make each other better.  As a good friend of Bobby’s, I know that he will be one of the forces to ensure that this will happen in the not so distant future. The third and final honoree was James C. Cooke, Jr.  He was the business manager and sports psychologist for the 150 members of the New York City Warriors in the 1960s and early 1970s.  He served under Director James A. Lathen, who was known to wield a strong hand with the membership.  He was a good counterpart who always kept everybody cool, calm and collected.  The two of them made a great team of administration and order.  James is a great motivator of people. He thanked the entire room, including his mother, Kirkalena, his sisters and many friends for the honor of the award that evening.  It just so happened that it wasn’t until this occasion that Mark Finkle had the pleasure of meeting James Cooke for the first time.  Here were two gentlemen, both known for their deep contributions to the Warriors drum corps, who both served as business managers, but during different periods in the corps’ history and who never got to work together.  If there was ever a need for a testament to the significance of celebratory events like these, it would be the meeting of these two drum corps icons on this night and for them to enjoy each other’s camaraderie. The evening also included the James Dixon, Sr. Award, given to four members who had distinguished service with the New York Warriors.  This award was named in honor of the long-serving director of the Warriors in the 1950s.  Mr. Dixon also served as the quartermaster during their glory years of the operation.  This year’s honorees were Sandra Brown (color guard captain), Roxanne Barnes (color guard member with nine years of service), Walter Whitehurst (cymbalist with eight years of service) and Alan Peoples (soprano soloist with nine years of service to the corps). Alan stated that all members of the Warriors truly deserve to receive an award.  He was proud when it was finally presented to him at his home in Mount Vernon, NY.  Finally, the Warrior of the Year went to Mr. Curtis Simpson and the Youth Corps awards went to Sienna Thomas and Kamali Smith. The City Mission Cadet Corps (CMCC) Warriors have shaped thousands of lives throughout its history and it looks like this new Warriors Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps will continue in its footsteps as well.  The new director, Mr. Boyjiue Lathan (son of former Director Jimmy Lathan) is doing his best to form an organization that builds character in men and women of all ages.  The group will be practicing once a month starting in February on the last Saturday of the month at the Lt. J.P. Kennedy Center, 34 West 134th Street, New York, NY 10037. Members of the board of directors for the alumni corps include Gloria Black, Olivia Cooke, Kevin Dennis, George Douglas, Keith Griffin, Stanley Hicks, Boyjiue Lathan, Dyrek Lathen, Bill Parker, Terrence Simmons, Tim Smith and Larry Thomas.

One thought on “Legendary CMCC Warriors alumni host second annual gala and awards night

  1. James Peck says:

    I was blessed to march with The Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights late 60’s to we broke up in early 70’s. I always would find a way to see the Warriors if they were in the same show. I just loved the huge sound of your horn line. A couple of drummers in our drum line came over to Jersey to perform with us. Great flag line.

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