Monument will honor the Squires
SCHUYLER COUNTY--For many Schuyler County residents, Watkins Glen is synonymous with the Squires. Throughout the years, hundreds of area performers participated. Others knew someone who marched with the Corps. From the mid-'60s through the early '80s, the Squires kept the beat, locally, regionally, and nationally.
On Sept. 17 at 2 p.m., the legacy of the Squires and Pages Junior Drum & Bugle Corps will be memorialized on the County Courthouse lawn with a public ceremony and the unveiling of a granite monument. Standing four-feet-tall, the monument was designed by a Squires alumni group, which was headed by former Schuyler County Court Judge Dennis Morris. Corps alumni funded the project.
"We asked alumni to be part of the 'Rock Solid 100' with a donation of $100," said Steve Rondinaro, who joined the Corps when he was 10 years old and was inducted into the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame in 2013. "Several of us in the core group promised to put up whatever extra money was needed if we fell short. Instead, we were blown away by the response."
With the financial resources in hand, the organizers ordered the stone and approached local artist Dave Herzig for design ideas. Herzig is married to the daughter of a Corps founder, and organizers wanted to keep the work local.
"A monument has been a dream of ours for decades," said Rondinaro. "And, we've always wanted it to be located on the Courthouse lawn. That location has always been our first choice."
Vern Alling, Chuck Calhoun, and Carl Isley are credited with establishing the Corps in 1964 under the sponsorship of the American Legion Post. The performers debuted during Watkins Glen's annual Memorial Day Parade in 1965, with Drum Major Ted Specchio leading a Corps of approximately 30 performers down Franklin Street to the Courthouse.
Over the next nearly 20 years, the Squires earned four consecutive New York state championships and three national titles among many other awards. The complete history of the Squires, "Echoes in the Valley," was on display at the Schuyler County Historical Society from the fall of 2021 through the spring of 2022, and a number of supporting videos are available on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIb9x6Btt1w).
"These accomplishments are something worth celebrating and memorializing," said Rondinaro. "What this small-town drum corps accomplished in the '70s was nothing short of remarkable. People active in drum corps today remember the Squires."
The monument is also a tribute to the Corps' founders: Calhoun, Isley, and Alling.
"Little could they have known how their idea would blossom," said Barb Chapman, who was a drum major with the Squires. "The Squires and Pages were great community resources, and the local support we got was amazing. For many, it became a full-blown family affair, and the alumni group is still tight all these years later."