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by Phil Dennesen

America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration happens annually on the weekend before Thanksgiving in the quaint historic town of Plymouth MA. Each year several well-known Senior Alumni Corps will make their much-anticipated pilgrimage to perform in front of thousands of people in the mammoth Thanksgiving parade and the nighttime concert at Memorial Hall. This year’s performances will be:

  • Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights Drum & Bugle Corps
  • Caballeros Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps
  • Defenders Concert Corps
  • Connecticut Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps
  • Crusader Senior Drum & Bugle Corps
  • Northstar Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps


The Saturday night concert at Plymouth Memorial Hall is the highlight of the year for each Corps. “Plymouth Weekend” as the Corps’ members call it, is more than just the morning parade and night concert. For each member and fan that makes this trip, it is something special. Below are a few of their thoughts.

Bob Findley of Connecticut Alumni – Wow, I love the great Plymouth Thanksgiving Parade and nighttime concert performance! There are so many people watching the parade, they are more than four people deep, all along the parade route. They are cheering us on and loving what we do!! It is great seeing a lot of our old friends that we used to compete against. Now we just enjoy each other’s music. Plus, being able to perform at any age, I’m 77 and will be directing the Connecticut Alumni Corps this year at the concert !!! I’m just loving it !!!

Art Kellerman of Crusader Seniors – The National Alumni Drum & Bugle Concert in Plymouth, MA is more than just a drum corps show. It is a combination living drum corps museum and a time machine, capable of bringing both the viewers and participants back to a simpler time. It is a journey back to the days when the grassroots sponsorship of local churches and veterans groups assured that a marching unit would thrive in just about every city, village, or town.

There is something warm and comforting about familiarity, and spectators come and expect to see the traditional uniforms they remember from the days of their youth. And the sounds! To hear Hawthone’s “Call to the Bull,” Blessed Sacrament’s “National Emblem March,” the Crusaders’ “Conquest,” and the Connecticut Alumni’s “Magnificent 7,” among others, is a treat not to be found elsewhere other than on one’s old and scratchy Fleetwood records.

The show is not judged, but don’t tell that to the participants. In their heads, they are still competing, trying to be the very best that they can be.

Best of all, the experience is age-transforming. For a short while, Corps members are able to leave behind their struggles of adulthood, as well as the physical afflictions that may come with the aging process, and return to their earlier selves, when discipline and pride provided the invulnerability of youth. May this show and experience live on for all to enjoy!

Maggie Huff, Spectator – This show is more than just a tribute to a summer marching activity from years past. With each Corps’ performance, the hall becomes more and more electric. How could it not? When each corps marches into the hall, you are waiting and watching. Then as the corps bring their horns up, they are pointing them right at YOU!  AND they’re not going to be quiet about it!! Afterward, I can still feel the echoes of the drums down to my bones! There is just nothing like it!! Period!!!

Richard Michaud of Crusaders Seniors – I think most people believe the Drum & Bugle Corps season ends at finals in Indianapolis or DCA in Rochester. Who knew we could enjoy great drum corps performances right up to the beginning of the winter holidays? “The Saturday night show in Plymouth is my Nationals!” All the drum corps are at peak performance levels for the year. If you understand what true drum & bugle corps is, you understand the excitement of the senses that ruminates right down to your soul. I am grateful to be back for yet another Plymouth Weekend!

Howard Cortez of Hawthorne Caballeros – As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, I can’t help to think that Plymouth Weekend will be coming soon. What a unique town for all the original great drum & bugle corps to perform old style, keeping it real for today’s fans.

I’m so proud to be marching with The Hawthorne Caballeros! In my youth, I marched with Blue Rock. Back then, having the Cab’s behind us on the “Kick Off Line” and now to be performing with them is incredible! Plymouth is everything rolled up in one package – awesome parade – great crowd – incredible food – the corps! Who has it better than us on Plymouth Weekend? We don’t need the Macy’s Parade. We have Plymouth! Yesss!

Mike Killion of Ct Alumni – St Kevin’sSkyliners: So many memories!
-The incredible crowd the entire parade route!
-The excitement of gathering in the parade muster area and watching the Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights playing their routine for their host home.
-Seeing all the corps jackets being worn, running into and talking with friends you know from the other corps.
-Performing in The Skyliners Alumni Corps approaching the viewing stand and the announcement of your corps to the roar of the crowd!
-The packed house at Memorial Hall on Saturday night. The audience being totally psyched to watch and listen to drum & bugle corps they haven’t seen in decades.
-The great performances, I will always remember: Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights; The Defenders first public performance of “St. Louis Blues March;” The Kilties’ “Auld Lang Syne;” and of course that great mellophone line from The Caballeros playing, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.” Wow!

America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration aka “Plymouth Weekend” for me is “all about friends, a place where everyone knows your name, a place to get away, and they’re all glad you came.” I think you will get the idea and feeling if you can just take a couple of minutes and listen to that great theme song from the TV show called “Cheers.” **That, my friend, is Plymouth!!**

Phil Dennesen – Crusaders Seniors


Plymouth Thanksgiving Parade information