2004 junior corps census shows declining numbers

by Brian Tolzmann, DCW staff

After such a promising 2003 season, where a record 95.9% of the previous season’s junior corps population was retained, the 2004 numbers are back down to earth, with a net loss of nine corps.

Most drum corps fans knew way before the 2004 season began that there would be many faces missing in the North American junior corps ranks. Dimensions, Eklipse, Decorah Kilties, Rochester Patriots, San Diego Alliance, Scenic City, Quest, Quebec Alliance, Phoenix and Revolution all decided to call things off for 2004.

Throw in the merging of two corps (Strutters and Allegiance Elite) to form one (Fusion) and the decision of the Blue Star Cadets to add woodwinds to change from drum and bugle corps status to a marching winds and percussion group, and the numbers show that 17.56% of the 2003 active juniors were not around as field drum and bugle corps in 2004.

Things were not all grim for 2004, as six juniors that weren’t on the field in 2003 made it onto the field in 2004. Spokane Thunder (WA), 7th Regiment (CT), Mystikal (CA), the merger Fusion (ALB), Silver Sabres (KS) and New Day (WI) were new to the field. In the case of the last two, it was a       resurrection of sorts, with the Silver Sabres making it onto the field for the first time since 1978, and New Day coming back for the first time since 1996.

With 7th Regiment making their debut, it marked the first time since the 1983 season that the state of Connecticut fielded a junior corps.

Perhaps the most startling thing about the 2004 numbers is that the state of Arizona had as many field-active junior corps as the once top-producing drum corps state, New York, with two corps each. Compare this with the 1980 season, when Arizona fielded one junior corps and New York had 34.
Another amazing development in the junior world is that Quebec, which was North America’s top junior corps producer for 12 seasons during the DCI era, is now down to just one field active junior corps, Les Stentors.

California remains the top junior corps producer, with 11 corps (once again, for purposes of this survey, Yamato is not included as an exclusively California corps, since it still shares its home base with Japan), followed by Wisconsin’s seven and New Jersey’s and Ontario’s five each.
The number of field active juniors for the 1994-2004 seasons: 1994, 121; 1995, 108; 1996, 117; 1997, 102; 1998, 92; 1999, 95; 2000, 85; 2001, 76; 2002, 72; 2003, 74 2004, 65.