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History

In existence for almost 60-years, the Seattle Cascades Drum and Bugle Corps is the oldest continuously active drum corps from the Pacific Northwest. The corps traces its roots back to 1958, as a descendant of the all-boy Greenwood Boys Club Drum & Bugle Corps (GWBC).

 

The GWBC were formed in February 1958 by Jack Avery who marched with the famous Harvey Seeds Rebels Sr. D&BC from Miami Florida, four-time American Legion National Champions, and the Seattle Hurricanes, nine-time Washington State Legion Sr. Champions.  The Greenwood Boys Club of Seattle was the sponsor of his new corps.

 

The GWBC D&BC first field show was at the Washington State VFW Championships on June 13, 1959 in Tacoma where they took first place.  Prior to that, they were a parade corps and entertained at special events all around the state.

 

Early in 1960, the GWBC D&BC members voted to change their name to the “Thunderbirds”.

 

Some of the Thunderbirds’ titles:

  • Washington State VFW Champions in 1959, 1961, 1963, 1966

  • Washington State American Legion Champions in 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966

  • Washington State Drum & Bugle Corps Association Champions in 1966

  • All-American National Champions in 1966

In 1963, the Thunderbirds created a feeder corps: the Thunderbird Cadets. They were under the direction of Jack Avery and Rod Stubbs.  The first major performance during the Thunderbird Cadets’ inaugural season was when they participated in the Rose Festival Parade in Portland, Oregon.

1964 was a groundbreaking year for the Seattle Thunderbirds. Under the leadership of George Laumin and Jack Little, the corps entered the field with a program of show tunes and modern field drill. They were the first west coast corps to use contrabass bugles and multi-tenor drums. They also traveled by train to Cleveland Ohio to compete in the VFW Nationals.

 

In the fall of 1965, a large group of Thunderbird Cadet parents approached Jack Avery & Rod Stubbs about forming a new corps separate from the Thunderbird organization.  They agreed and in June of 1966 formed the Cascade Cadets (Seattle Cascades).  1965 was the last year for the Thunderbird Cadets, as the remainder of the members moved up to the Thunderbird A-Corps for the 1966 season.

 

The Thunderbirds did not field a corps in 1969 due to a management reorganization/shake-up.  Many of its members marched with other local corps instead.

 

1970 was the last year for the Thunderbirds, with many staff and marching members joining the newly renamed Seattle Cascades Drum & Bugle Corps.

 

The relationships between the Thunderbirds, Thunderbird Cadets, and the Seattle Cascades are so intertwined that the first four drum majors for the Cascades originated from either the Thunderbirds or the Thunderbird Cadets, spanning the first eight years of the Cascades existence.

 

The Thunderbirds and Cascades shared Founders, Directors, Instructors, and marching members.  The lineage is the same, but the managerial structure and outcomes are different.

The first known Cascade Cadets field show was just two months after forming in June of 1966. The show was on August 20, 1966 at Westminster BC, Canada. It helped that all Cascade members already had drum corps experience from the Thunderbird Cadets, otherwise putting together a show that quickly using rookies with the average age of 14 would have been impossible. 

 

From 1966 thru 1979 the Cascades experienced good years and bad. The years from 1971 thru 1979 were spent slowly rebuilding the corps from the mass exodus they experienced at the end of 1970. 

 

In 1977, the Cascades traveled to Denver Colorado to compete in American Legion Nationals where they placed 12th in prelims, and also attended DCI finals at Mile High Stadium. In 1978 they made the trip to Boulder Colorado to attend DCI again.

 

Between 1979 and 1985 the Cascades traveled extensively, going as far east as Madison Wisconsin to compete.  Drum corps shows in the Pacific Northwest declined drastically as the number of local corps dwindled.

In 1985, the corps reorganized as a Class A60 (Division-III) corps, placing 15th in Class A60 finals in Madison Wisconsin.
 

Between 1986 and 1990, they honed their skills as a parade corps, gaining experience to enter the field of competition again. 
 

In 1991, they reentered competition in Class A60.
 

1992: The corps moved into Division-II, eventually placing 6th in 1996 before taking another year off to reorganize.

 

The corps returned as a Division-II corps, earning a 9th place finish in 1998 and 6th in 1999.

2000: The corps stepped down to Division-III and was crowned DCI Division-III World Champions, also receiving the Spirit Disney Award, given to the corps with the most entertaining family-oriented show.

2001: The corps membership nearly doubled, and the corps finished a close second to the Division-II champions, advanced to the Division-I Semi-Finals, and placed 17th.

2002: The Cascades moved into Division-I (now World Class) competition and became the first corps from the Pacific Northwest to earn a place in Drum Corps International’s Top 12.  It took 36-years from their first season for the corps to get to DCI Finals.

In 2008, the corps once again took a year off from competition in order to stabilize their finances and returned to the field in 2009.

 

In 2016, the corps celebrated its 5Oth anniversary with “O” and a field covered with “O”s symbolizing a milestone anniversary and our area code, 2O6.  To date, this is the shortest show title in DCI history.

COVID hit our corps hard in 2020, 2021, and 2022; we did not put the corps on the field.  We eventually bounced back and returned to competition in 2023.

There’s much more to come as we celebrate 2024!

 

Imagine the possibilities...

 

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