While the sound of the metronome and tuning notes filled the drum corps rehearsal air, more than 500 American flags transformed the sprawling front lawn of the Camden County Technical School into a sea of red, white, and blue this Memorial Day. With preparations for the upcoming DCI Summer Tour well underway, the Jersey Surf took a few moments out of their busy rehearsal weekend to honor those who have served, and continue to serve our country.
The corps sported their traditional uniforms for the first time this season to take part in the fourth “We the People” event held annually on Memorial Day. Sponsored by the Jersey Surf and the Camden County Technical School, this ceremony brings together families, the community, and corps members to honor those who serve our country. The hour-long presentation featured performances from affiliated organizations and speeches from Jersey Surf Director of Member Experience, Mike Mercadante and Winslow Township Mayor, Hon. Barry Wright. Both spoke about the meaning of Memorial Day and the importance of drum corps against a dramatic background of nearly 600 American flags blowing in the warm springtime breeze. Each flag stood in honor of a generous donor’s loved one and their service to our country.
The audience was treated to a special performance from the Audubon Bon Bons Alumni Chorus, comprised of alumni of the drum corps activity’s revered first all-girl corps. Their repertoire included patriotic tunes such as, “This is My Country” and “America the Beautiful.” Long-time Surf volunteer, Sandi Ruddy, got the crowd singing along to “God Bless America” before opening the stage to the corps.
Trumpet players James Pennington and Vernon Holmes took the honor of playing a chilling “echo taps” rendition across the campus pond before stepping back into form. The corps began their first public performance with selections from their 2015 program, the corps song “Pure Imagination” and “Stars and Stripes” for the finale. After the performance, military veterans in attendance were invited on stage to take a picture with the corps and to be honored for their service to our country.
Preparation for the event took place over several months, and was put into action on Friday evening when volunteers arrived to set up the hundreds of American flags across the vocational school’s expansive front lawn. To complete the laborious job, more than a dozen volunteers, including corps members, arrived to camp up to four hours early to transport and stake the 500 flags. The flags remained on display throughout the weekend for those commuting along the busy Cross Keys Road to admire and reflect upon.
Each night leading up to Memorial Day, the corps gathered at dusk for an evening performance of taps. Saturday, the corps was joined by Jersey Surf Board Member Mr. Donald Whitworth, who also serves as the Delaware State Director of Bugles Across America. Mr. Whitworth performed a heartfelt rendition of Taps set against a beautiful sunset, silhouetting the flags and fountains fronting the school. Each night the crisp sound of the trumpets cut through the air, allowing a rare pause in the rehearsal day to reflect on the significance of this weekend in our nation’s history.
Check out the recap video here.