The Optimists Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The Field Is Still Green
But The Sky Is Cloudy
The 1966 season started with an amazing surprise success. At the “Shriner’s International” contest held in Toronto in June, the Optimists defeated the reigning VFW, American Legion and CYO National Champion Chicago Royal Aires.
Success continued through the year with Optimists defeating St. Joseph’s of Batavia for the first time since 1963. The musical program included Food, Glorious Food from “Oliver”, Eager Beaver by Stan Kenton and a concert medley of Sweet Georgia Brown, Georgia, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Thank Heaven for Little Girls. Jack Roberts wrote the drill.
The corps seemed to be on cruise control coasting into nationals. They didn’t see the pothole until it was almost too late. A new Canadian corps had hitched itself to the competitive ladder. Cadets LaSalle, an Ottawa corps with an amazingly exciting show, was roaring through the pack and by the Ontario Championships had replaced De La Salle as No. 2.
The national championships were held in Montreal and, pushed by a huge, supportive crowd at prelims, LaSalle did the unthinkable. They beat the mighty “Green Machine.” Prelims and finals were held on the same day, which didn’t leave the Optimists much time to repair the damage.
The drum line started practising right after prelims and didn’t stop until it was time to dress and head for the stadium. The efforts of the drum line inspired the rest of the corps and just before the finals performance, huddled under the grandstand, Joe Palanica, who was aging out, spoke of what it meant to be an Optimist.
In the stands that evening were many members of other drum corps and many former Optimists. Every one of them I’ve spoken to about that evening says exactly the same thing. It was the most electrifying performance they had ever seen.
The Optimists earned their ninth consecutive title by more than three points.