Every year this happens in my town. I will upload a couple of short videos from it. This certain group are the CT Ancient Mariners.
Here is an overview of the history.
A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW:
The DRAM was originally called a "Field Day" and has taken many forms over the years. The earliest dated documentation found on file in the Company of Fifers and Drummers Museum Archives of a Field Day is one that took place on May 13, 1879. It was a convention of Drummers at which only five local units participated in a competition. Over the decades to follow fierce rivalry between groups was intense and grudges were not uncommon and eventually the field days ceased for several decades. The following are just a few of the highlights in the history of the steps the Deep River Ancient Muster took to get where it is today:
In 1949 the Field Day was revived and held in September each year until 1952. Prizes were awarded to the best and spectators attended for a twenty-five cent admission charge.
The first time the gathering was called a "Muster" was on September 5, 1953 with fifteen corps attending from CT, NY, MD, DC, and MA. The first muster also celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Deep River Drum Corps. The parade started at the Deep River Elementary School, then down High Street onto Main Street and concluded at Devitt Field. Awards were presented by cartoonist C.D. Batchelor for the following: "Oldest Group", "Youngest Group", "Group Traveling the Farthest", and "Largest Number in the Line of March. Commemorative pins sold for twenty-five cents and refreshments were served at the Swede Club (the United Scandinavian Society). A group calling themselves "The Committee of Twelve" formed stating their mission would be "to help insure success of the DRAM and foster ancient groups in CT". They issued the following statement: "The only hope for the continued activity of the ancients corps is a reawakening of the warm spirit of the fraternity which once so closely associated them. We must meet and throw down past prejudices in order to survive."
In 1958 the DRAM was held on July 19. This muster boasted being the biggest in history with twenty-two groups in attendance. This was also the first time Bag Pipe bands marched. The parade route was from Devitt Field, up Union Street, over Elm Street, down Main Street, and back to Devitt Field. Honored guests included Eastern Symphony Conductor Frederick Fennel from Rochester NY and McKinley Cantor, an Iowa born fifer who was also a Pulitzer Prize winner, famous for the novel "If the South Had Won the Civil War".
July 15, 1967 celebrated the 95th anniversary of the DRAM and hosted seventy corps from CT, MA, VA, PA, NY, NJ, MI, WA, and Canada. Governor Dempsey issued a proclamation making the 1967 DRAM the highlight of Ancient Fife and Drum Corps Week. The proclamation read: "Serving to remind us that the patriots of the American Revolution often marched to battle to the stirring strains of martial music are the annual Musters of Connecticut's fife and drum corps." The weekend began with an informal jollification and dance at the Westbrook Armory Friday night, followed by the parade and muster on Saturday. The 1967 DRAM also marked the first National Convention of the Company of Fifers and Drummers.
1972 marked the 100th DRAM with Governor Meskill riding in a convertible behind the Deep River Drum Corps in the parade. This was the largest muster to date with eighty-two units marching (over two thousand participants) and an estimated twenty-five to thirty thousand spectators.
The DRAM had changed from a small, mainly drum corps event into a mass celebration stretching from the town hall to the Swede Club- necessitating the closure of Main Street from sundown on Friday pretty much until the wee hours Sunday morning. The Deep River Inn- a restaurant & bar in the center of town- fenced off their parking lot and allowed the volunteer fire department to sell hot dogs and beer (as a fund raiser for the volunteer fire department) to jamming musicians and spectators. The center of town was virtually taken over by partiers some of whom weren't necessarily there for the music. There were also large jam sessions at Devitt Field and the Swede Club throughout the weekend. Town residents had may mixed views and feelings on the weekend's events because while the ancients were making jollification, crowd control on the streets became a problem for law enforcement officials. In 1986, the DRAM was changed forever. The party in the center of town was prohibited from ever starting and has never been allowed again. The fire department lost their fund raiser and the ancients were limited to jamming only at Devitt's Field and the Swede Club, and the partiers who weren't there for the music stopped coming. The Deep River Drum Corps takes great pride in the fact that the DRAM has been reclaimed for the preservation of ancient music in the spirit of their predecessors and is now considered a safe and educational event for the entire family.
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Information for this history of the DRAM was acquired from the Company of Fifers and Drummers Museum archives. Only a few miles from Deep River, the Company of Fifers and Drummers was founded in 1965 by representation from 17 corps from CT and NY. Membership in the Company is now over 1500 individuals world wide. The headquarters is located on North Main Street in Ivoryton CT and features a museum with displays of uniforms and memorabilia from decades of history. The Company also runs a store with music books, patches, buttons, and clothing for sale. In addition to tours, the Museum also offers summer concerts featuring various corps on Tuesday evenings in July and August- FREE to the public. For more information call 860-767-2237 or visit their website at http://www.fifeanddrum.com
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