I was very pleased and honored to be asked to write an article for our new newsletter. As I accepted the request, the thought passed through my mind, “Now, what am I going to write about?” I kept coming back to this – just be honest and tell it like it is. With that said, here are some of my thoughts and observations.
I call this reorganization of Southwind “Chapter 4.” Same as Chapter 1 (1981 – 1983), I didn’t start it; I got involved later. I’ve watched our beloved corps grow over the last six years into a small powerhouse in DCI’s Open Class Division. The corps has marched 118 to 128 members over the past three years finishing in fifth place during the 2019 season. This year the top three of the Open Class performed on Friday night’s semifinals during DCI’s World Championships. The competition this year was fierce, starting on Monday of Championship week, and reminded me of the 1991 and 1992 seasons. If you haven’t attended a DCI Open Class show or the DCI Open Class Championships, you should! There are some really good Open Class Drum Corps out there. Also, this is right where Southwind needs to be to ensure positive growth for the future.
The corps is based out of Mobile/Baldwin Counties and pulls membership mainly from South Alabama, South Mississippi, and the Panhandle of Florida, all being a hot-bed of some really good band programs. The corps has earned the respect of many educators that now support the corps with its membership. All day rehearsals run 20 to 25 days before leaving for tour. The corps travels 6 to 7 thousand miles for 30 to 35 days during the summer. Southwind travels with three charter buses of staff and musicians. SWoogen, our Food Bus, pulls a pantry trailer. TED, a 51′ tractor trailer filled with uniforms and instruments, received a beautiful paint job this year. An RV with a work trailer, two support vehicles with one additional trailer, and a 26 foot box truck finish out the caravan. As you can see, it’s turned into a huge operation!
The corps’s annual budget is over $400k with the 2019 members paying $3000 in tuition to march for the season.
Additionally, the corps has a small bingo operation that generates about $20k a year depending on the economy. We run a profitable drum corps show in Millbrook, Alabama, Drums Across the River Region, that adds to the tour fund each summer. Our newly added preview show in South Alabama added additional revenue through souvenir sales. Exciting to mention, Southwind recently founded a performance program involving local youth and adult talent to help generate more funding. This program is growing very fast! The point is, if you do the math, extra money is needed each year to make our badly needed budget. There are more fundraising ideas in the planning stages, so stay tuned!
The truth about all of this good news is it takes people and money to make this work. We need your help! Get involved with the corps – drive a vehicle, cook a meal, sew a uniform, join the medical staff, sell souvenirs, volunteer to help with one of our events, work for our fundraising committee. If you do not have time to donate, make a cash donation. Anything can help us so much! I try to do something for the corps/organization every day. And, today I’m asking for donations and volunteers. Our small powerhouse is growing and we need your help.
Contact me at [email protected] for more information.
Well, I told you I was going to be honest!