Gateway: Living

Touring drum and bugle corps group has strong ties to Peninsula High School

Seattle Cascade Drum and Bugle Corps on the move during at competition July 1 at Auburn Memorial Stadium.
Seattle Cascade Drum and Bugle Corps on the move during at competition July 1 at Auburn Memorial Stadium. Special to the Gateway

A year ago, we did a story on the Eruption Drum and Bugle Corps and its fantastic performance at Peninsula High School’s Roy Anderson Field (Gateway, July 8, 2015). Several Peninsula School District students were among the band members who hailed from throughout the Pacific Northwest. For budgetary reasons, that band, sadly, has since been put on hold.

For some, invitations to join Washington state’s No. 1 such group, the Seattle Cascade Drum and Bugle Corps, was irresistible. Among those joining the over-200-strong contingent were Victoria Johnson, a Peninsula High junior, and Cameron McMillan, a 2012 Peninsula High graduate.

Although participating in the bands is grueling, time consuming and demanding (lights out at 11:30 p.m., up at 6 a.m. for exercise, breakfast and a launch into almost painful marching practice), young musicians find it exhilarating. It is open to qualified musicians through their 21st year. Then it’s over.

The band travels and often sleeps on three well-appointed buses. Members are fed three wholesome meals daily from a huge truck-and-trailer kitchen watched over by trained chefs and nutritionists. Each musician has and is responsible for his or her own musical instrument and equipment and a two-liter insulated container for water. Dehydration could, otherwise, pose a problem.

Seattle Cascade, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016, hosted the opening of the Western Marching Band Competitions at Auburn High School’s stadium July 1. Bands from as far away as Provo, Utah, and Santa Clara, California participated. The smallest unit came from Spokane. Competition was exacting.

The No. 1 band, the Santa Clara Vanguards, a repeat champion for several years, again took first place. Second place went to the Oregon Crusaders from Portland and Seattle Cascade proudly came in third against highly financed competition.

Western competitions began July 1 in Auburn; and proceeded on July 2 to Tigard, Oregon; July 5, Tri-Cities, Washington; July 6, Boise, Idaho; July 7, Ogden, Utah; July 9, Casper, Wyoming; July 11, Denver; July 20, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; July 21, Belton, Texas; July 23, San Antonio; July 26, Gulfport, Mississippi; July 29, Opelika, Alabama; and July 30, Atlanta. The tour is also scheduled to make stops in Charleston, West Virginia; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Rome, NY; and Indianapolis in August.

We heard from our PHS contingent Saturday. It was enduring the humidity of San Antonio. Exhausted, but happy!

GO, Cascade!

Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at