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"A Walk through Drum Corps History"


The Brigadiers Drum & Bugle Corps is a precision musical/marching organization that is historically significant to the Central New York region. The Corps' proud history began in 1938 as a junior drum and bugle corps organized by the Polish Legion of American Veterans (P.L.A.V.) Post #14 in Syracuse, NY. After a few years of dormancy during World War II, the original corps was reorganized as an all age drum and bugle corps in 1947 and entered the realm of field competition. The corps won the P.L.A.V. National Championship every year the event was held.

In 1954, the corps was expanded when "The Boys From Syracuse", "The Cortland Moose" and "The Sons of American Legion Post #41" all merged under the present title of "The Syracuse Brigadiers".


The Syracuse Brigadiers won the coveted title of New York State American Legion Champion from 1955 through 1960 and again in 1964 and 1967. Under the sponsorship of P.L.A.V. Post #14 and American Legion #1677, the Syracuse Brigadiers were finalists in the American Legion National Championships every time they entered. The corps has was also runner-up to the National Champions three times and were International Champions in 1957 and 1958. During the 1968 season, after finishing within a few tenths of a point from the DCA World Championship, the members of the "Brigs" were devastated by the tragic deaths of two of their members in an automobile accident after a rehearsal.


The quality of the corps' performance diminished during the ensuing years. The corps was inactive in 1972, but made a sterling comeback attempt in 1973. Where other corps had the luxury of eleven months of preparation for the DCA World Championship, the Brigadiers endured an intense rehearsal schedule for a mere five weeks before entering the field of competition a few weeks before the 1973 DCA World Championship. This group of Brigadiers had embarked on an endeavor unheard of within the drum corps activity and carried the pride and the tradition of the Syracuse Brigadiers with them into the 1973 Championship. Sadly, because of a judging penalty for undersized flags at the preliminary competition, the Brigs missed inclusion at the DCA finals by five hundredths of a point. The community and the drum corps world lost one of its most exciting drum and bugle corps that day, as the corps folded in the wake of its disappointment.




Fate intervened 17 years later on August 11, 1990, when the Crusaders from Rochester, NY sponsored the "Pageant of Drums" competition at MacArthur Stadium in Syracuse, NY, a show that featured many of the top drum and bugle corps in the country. At the time of this event, the Rochester Crusader instructional staff included former members of the Syracuse Brigadiers. The Crusaders also decided to award the first place trophy in honor of the late Charlie Ragonese, one of the previous Corps Directors of the Syracuse Brigadiers.


At the awards ceremony following the competition, the stadium announcer asked if there were any Brigadier alumni in the audience who wished to join the other drum corps on the field for the awards ceremony. About fifty former Brigadiers came from the grandstand, formed as a parade unit on the field, and proudly marched around the stadium to the strains of familiar Brigadier music of the past. The crowd rose to their feet and cheered. The rebirth of the Syracuse Brigadiers had begun.

Inspired by these events, a small group of former Brigadiers and fans met in October, 1990 to discuss the possibility of resurrecting the Brigadiers. Television and newspaper advertisements began to test the waters of interest in a new corps. The interest was immense, but interest alone could not form the corps. The cost to re-equip a large drum and bugle corps would exceed $40,000 for the essential percussion and brass instruments alone. Uniforms, banners, rifles, sabers, accessory instruments would make the costs soar. But this undaunted group of organizers begged and borrowed the necessary equipment enabling the to put a parade corps on the street in 1991.


Membership in the corps grew greatly. Personal loans, second mortgages on homes and membership fees were needed to finance the future success of the corps, allowing the Syracuse Brigadiers to once again enter the field of competition in 1992.


"The Brigs were back"


This refrain echoed throughout the drum corps world. At many competitions, the Brigadiers received applause from other competing corps. It was if they believed an old friend had returned home after a long absence. The Brigs had, after all, been away for 19 years.

The Brigadiers immediately began to recapture past glories, as well as establish new standards of excellence. With audience entertainment the traditional priority for the Brigs, standing ovations were received at every performance. Show sponsors began competing with each other to have the Syracuse Brigadiers included in their shows. The 1992 season ended in Scranton, Pennsylvania at the DCA World Championships where the Brigadiers garnered an eleventh place finish at Finals and earned Associate DCA membership. The year 1993 brought even greater successes, culminating with a ninth place finish at the DCA World Championships and full DCA membership status.


The 1994 season saw the combination of elements of the new breed of Brigadiers with those of the past. Al "Corky" Fabrizio (former soloist, Drum Major, and music arranger of the Brigadiers of the 50's, 60's, and the 70's) returned to the corps, along with several other former Brigs.. Steadily growing in consistency and in organizational structure, the Brigs placed 7th in 1995 and 5th in 1996.


Finally, the Brigadiers were on the road to further successes, sharing the 1997 World Championship with the Empire Statesmen. The corps finished 2nd in 1998, and in 1999 won an undisputed World Championship by one of the largest margins of victory in DCA history. The corps claimed two more championships in 2000 and 2001, posting undefeated seasons each year. In 2002, the corps again completed an undefeated season and proceeded to win the corps' fifth World Championship, scoring a DCA-record high score that still stands today.


Tradition of Excellence


The Brigadiers finished their 2003 and 2004 seasons with a second place finishes at the DCA World Championships after being a long-standing title holder and record breaker, and finished the 2005 season in fourth place at the DCA Finals.


In 2006, the corps faced one of its most trying seasons since the hardships of its predecessor corps. Having been previously struck with some financial difficulties and in the face of many "retirements" of its members, the corps drew little interest in the preseason winter months. However, a strong nucleus of dedicated Brigadiers pushed forward and despite whispers throughout the drum corps community that the Brigs would not make it to the field, the corps made its debut in early July. Holding strong and filling out its ranks, the Brigs silenced the naysayers with a respectable sixth place finish at DCA Finals, maintaining its placement among the elite corps of DCA.


In April, 2007, the corps underwent a further reorganization in which its corporate leadership and center of operations were assumed by the Brigadiers Music Association. BMA is a newly-formed not-for-profit corporation organized for the purpose of promoting the art of music in motion. The partnership between BMA and The Brigadiers looks to be a long and successful one. 2007 brings with it high expectations and a renewed sense of pride and dedication from the corps membership, staff and administration. The design team has created an exciting vehicle for performance and competition and interest in membership is high. The corps looks forward to continuing the Brigadiers' "tradition of excellence" in 2007 and beyond.


The Corps 2009 - Present


After the 2009 season, the corps faced challenges in finding potential membership to make a 2010 program a possibility.  Deciding to judiciously have the corps go inactive, the organization continued, reintroduced as a competitive winterguard. Since 2011, the Brigadiers Winterguard has been a perennial participant at local guard circuits and Winterguard International, with finalist status multiple times in its' history.  The Guard continues to thrive in this capacity, carrying on the "Tradition of Excellence" that was a hallmark of the corps and after years in Independent Open Class at WGI recently moved up to Independent World for the 2019 season. 

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