Bridgemen announce formation of new corps

The Bridgemen Organization is excited to announce plans for the formation of The Bridgemen Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps. Older fans will remember the corps’ entertaining style and welcome the return of one of the activity’s most beloved corps. Few have managed to capture the imagination of fans in a way the Bridgemen did. After many years they are pleased and proud to announce their return.

At a recent meeting, the board of directors voted in the majority for the creation of a new corps. They are proud to announce the appointment of George Lavelle as executive director. Lavelle started his drum corps career in Bayonne as a soprano in the Kidets in 1972 and then moved up to the Bridgemen in 1979. He later founded the Raiders junior corps.

He is eager to put together a corps that lives up to the Bridgemen legacy and was recently quoted as saying, “This is a long time coming. The alumni have been chomping on the bit to finally get this thing going, and so am I.”

Over the last year, Lavelle has presented several options for the formation of a new musical unit. After careful consideration, the board decided the new group would return as an alumni corps. Although the idea of a competitive unit was given much consideration, the board felt an alumni corps would better represent the Bridgemen at this time.

Lavelle’s first order of business was to bring on board long-time St Andrew’s alumnus Tom Kowalak as assistant director. “I felt we needed not only a high quality individual for the position, but someone who had also been a big part of the organization for years,” Lavelle said.

As a youth, Kowalak had gone to St. Andrew’s School and attended the corps’ first practice. After his marching days, Tom was an assistant to the corps’ co-founder and long-time director, Ed Holmes. Mr. Holmes was recently inducted into the New Jersey Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

The rest of Lavelle’s appointments are Ruth Ann Cooper, director of administration; Nancy DuCharme, director of finance; John Riccardi, director of recruitment; Gary Karpinski, director of fund-raising; Ed Higgott, director of public relations; and Kenny Donovan, equipment manager. All are Bridgemen alumni.

Before the board considered a drum corps, they had organized the Bridgemen Alumni Association. After a successful run, the board felt it was time to bring back the show that many felt should never have ended. Claire Edmonds Kronenfeld, alumni association president, long time Bridgemen member and former instructor, said, “I’m ecstatic at the possibility of seeing my corps on the field again. We believe this will also greatly benefit our social endeavors. We want to bring back the Bridgemen, not only for the public, but for each other as well.”

The Bridgemen will soon announce details of their open house in October and will begin holding monthly practices in January 2005. It is expected the corps will make their first appearance in the Bayonne Memorial Day Parade in May 2005. This performance will bring the corps full circle. The first appearance of the original St. Andrew’s Bridgemen, was in this very same parade in 1965, exactly 40 years ago!

Membership is open to anyone over the age of 18 with drum corps or band experience, Bridgemen alumni or not. To learn more or to chat, visit the Web site at

The Bridgemen are in contact with many alumni, searching, not only to join the corps, but also to enjoy the social benefits of the alumni association. If you are interested in joining the Bridgemen Alumni Corps, or are an alumnus and would like to reconnect, contact or mail P.O. Box 354, Bayonne, NJ 07002.