The Canton Bluecoats competes at the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival drum corp competition. (CantonRep.com / Ray Stewart)

People of the Year: The Bluecoats

For the first time in The Bluecoats’ 40-plus-year history, the group became Drum Corps International World Champions in 2016—a testament to their dedication and hard work.

For the first time in The Bluecoats’ 40-plus-year history, the group became Drum Corps International World Champions in 2016—a testament to their dedication and hard work.

It’s a commendable feat by the 150-member corps, comprised of young adults between the ages of 15 and 22 from across the nation and world. The group is headquartered in Canton and led by Executive Director David Glasgow.

“We kind of felt like The Beatles last night,” Glasgow said the day after the DCI competition in Indianapolis.

The “Down Side Up” show thrilled audiences all season, bringing first-time regional wins and standing ovations. A trumpet soloist’s improvised wink, caught on camera during the finals competition, spurred thundering cheers.

The Canton Bluecoats competes at the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival drum corp competition.   (CantonRep.com / Ray Stewart)
The Canton Bluecoats competes at the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival drum corp competition. (CantonRep.com / Ray Stewart)
Bluecoat leaders frequently described the corps as fan favorites. This year, the show described by Glasgow as “modern and innovative” demanded attention with 9-foot-tall slides and electronic music. Numerous speakers were wheeled onto fields during their performances.

The Bluecoats also broke tradition with a distinct look—no hats and a white unitard-like uniform on marching members similar to the color guards’ yellow unitards.

As a play on the name, cheers of “Bloo” often have heralded the group’s performances.

“It’s been a really, really awesome learning experience,” drum major Samuel Crawford told The Canton Repository at a rehearsal in August. “And it’s changed me a lot as a person, for the better.”

The 19-year-old University of Alabama student said he gained people skills by supervising corps members and equipment on and off the field.

The Canton Bluecoats competes at the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival drum corp competition.   (CantonRep.com / Ray Stewart)
The Canton Bluecoats competes at the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival drum corp competition. (CantonRep.com / Ray Stewart)
The corps formed in 1972 and, originally a program of the Police Boys Club, was named in honor of retired police officers. They rose to prominence in 1987 with “Autumn Leaves,” a performance featuring the snare drums.

The same year, the corps became a DCI finalist for the first time. The Bluecoats took third place in 2015 and second place in 2014 at the DCI World Championships.

In 2016, the Bluecoats started on a good note with a first-place win at the DCI season opener at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in June. The corps remained undefeated for at least a dozen performances.

They stopped twice in Massillon, for “Innovations in Brass” in June and the “DCI Tour of Champions” in August. The latter performance was part of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival.

Finally, they capped the season with their first championship win where it all began, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass