Chapter 9                   




   “The Teens!”...


  With the exception of Chris Johnson, now composing for the front ensemble, the creative staff remained intact for 2010.They went about their work and produced a show themed “Heaven Sent,” an entertaining show steeped in religious music. The Hurricanes continued to compete at a very high level by posting three wins, three 2nd, three 3rd and two 4th place finishes, including 4th at the DCA Championship contest with a score of 95.338!

  The year of 2011 saw many changes to the creative team, as well as a few stormy periods. The changes began with long time director Bernie Malesky taking a seat on the Board of Directors while Kevin Hassan assumed the dual roll of President/Director. Other staff changes saw Dennis Argul taking over on brass and Gary Gill on percussion, with Jim Weaver and Mike Wyatt writing for the front ensemble, as well as John Lemire taking charge of the color guard. This creative staff, led by Jim Dugan, joined   drill writer Jamey Thompson and put together a show based on the music of George Gershwin. The Gershwin music, so familiar to Hurricane fans, with a theme titled “Old, New and Blue” had a definite Hurricane flavor to it… only with a modern flair! As winter turned to spring, however, it became evident that the drum line was lagging behind and instructional changes were in order. Dave Dumont & Mike Schmitt were brought in to head the battery. They came with energy and enthusiasm and measurable results were achieved immediately! In the spring, Jim Dugan took a leave from the Corps for personal reasons and an old friend, Bob Viddi stepped in to take over staff coordination. The Corps learned the show and completed the season performing, once again, at a very lofty level…especially the Hurricane Guard…They performed to high acclaim and were nothing short of great!













  The year did have a few storms, but overall, 2011 turned out to be a successful season on the field, culminating with a 4th place finish (94.35) at the DCA championship contest on Labor Day weekend. One problem that arose in 2011 and would eventually fester was a financial shortfall, a deficit that would loom larger as time went on. Undaunted and optimistic, the Hurricanes immediately began laying plans to produce an even better edition for 2012!

  The new year began with long time Hurc’s John Ashelford, Bernie Malesky and Doug Oravez taking over as Chairman of the Board, President and Director respectively. On the creative side, Jim Dugan returned to his post as the show/staff coordinator and along with a holdover team from 2011 got to work on the 2012 production, titled ”Blokes and Birds”…the show blended British pop music from the 60’s with traditional music, also of British origin. With Dennis Argul arranging brass, Mike Schmitt and Mike Wyatt writing for the battery and front ensemble, John Lemire choreographing the color guard and Jamey Thompson penning the visual program, the creative team did an outstanding job and authored a highly entertaining and spirited program.

   If there were any downside to the 2012 edition of the Hurricanes it would be starting the season with eight holes in the horn line. Although the Corps was full by seasons end and once again competing at a high level, filling in the holes did, however, have a nagging effect on the overall product. The Hurricanes of 2012 went to the DCA Championship in Annapolis Md. and once again turned in an impressive performance with yet another placement in the “elite” top five, earning a fourth place finish by scoring 93.08. Also of note in 2012; Hurc Hall of Famer Tom Brady led the Corps onto the field as the new Captain of the Honor Guard, exuding the same pride and dedication he has since he was a rookie in 1956!











 


  Carman Dragone and Bob Glover ascended to the positions of President and Director, respectively, for 2013 and holdovers on the creative team, Dennis Argul on brass and Jamey Thompson, visual,  were joined by Colby Kuzontkoski, front ensemble, Mark Willis, color guard design as well as Andrew Barlow taking on duel duties of battery arranger/staff coordinator. “Rage Against the Machine” was the theme chosen for the 2013 production…a departure from traditional music, taking a glimpse to the future. As preparations progressed for the 2013 campaign, however, menacing storm clouds loomed…and the prospect of sustaining and continuing the success the Hurricanes have enjoyed over the past several seasons became rife with obstacles. A considerable shortfall in projected revenue and dues obligations from 2012 once again not being met left the Corps in a severe financial crisis. This situation was compounded when both equipment trucks were deemed to be no longer serviceable, and membership dropped by nearly thirty-five percent…these problems, though not insurmountable on their own, seemed to pile up at the same time! The result was a challenging winter and shaky start to the season. In the first competition at the Barnum Festival, the Corps performance was a disappointment. The realization they were not as good as they should be hit home. Not surprisingly, and true to their Hurricane heritage, the membership responded by reaffirming their commitment to hard work and excellence with the determination and spirit to turn adversity into a salvageable and respectable season. On the strength of willpower and shear tenacity, the Hurricanes of 2013 did just that!...With the exemplary presence of a strong nucleus, as well as the perseverance of the instructional staff, the 2013 Hurricanes showed their mettle by clawing their way into the top ten and finished in 9th place at the DCA Championships with a score of 84.85. At the end of this season of challenge the resilience and bonded effort of the entire organization left everyone with a feeling of satisfaction.

   Looking ahead toward 2014, The Corps saw long time member and Hurc Hall of Famer Pete Propfe assume the Directorship. Pete, Carmen Dragone and newly appointed Business Manager and Treasurer Rich Warga formulated their plan to guide the Corps forward while addressing and managing the daunting fiscal situation still clouding the future. A considerable boost was realized when Hurricane Hall of Famer Ray Fallon stepped up and generously gifted the brass arrangements. The creative staff was rounded out with Jamey Thompson once again penning the visual program, John Lemire returning to guide the color guard, Mike Rabinowitz arranging for the percussion with Mike Blancalfleur arranging the front ensemble.

 














The theme of the 2014 production, “Always Greener,” played on the Corps colors and a journey through a flowering garden…symbolizing the Hurricane’s growth from a seedling into what’s evolved through the years in celebration of the Corps  sixtieth anniversary in the competitive arena. The ripple effect of a worsening financial crisis, the loss of both trucks and a reduced membership persisted in 2014. A smaller than desired Hurricane corps still had the heart, desire and resolve to excel, they simply didn’t have all components performing at the level necessary to return them to the coveted top five status and consequently  finished the season in 8th place in the championship contest. Stabilizing the organization is now paramount to the future prospects of the Corps.
 

  Rich Warga became the Executive Director of the Hurricanes following the 2014 season. He and Director Pete Propfe as well as the Board of Directors dug in to address the issues that were dragging the Corps down. Unlike drum corps of yesteryear, running a modern day corps requires a disciplined fiscal plan. Buying, replacing and maintaining equipment, uniforms and trucks, skyrocketing travel costs, managing debt as well as sustaining an adequate educational staff requires a dedicated, measured approach. Past practices must be evaluated and adjusted on an ongoing basis in order to meet the demands and standards necessary to successfully operate a championship caliper corps. There was a resolve to follow this mantra and stability began to seep in. The area that didn’t see improvement immediately was membership. Numbers were low and rehearsals throughout the winter were dismal.

  Warga quickly brought Carl Ruocco into the fold as show/staff coordinator and he promptly assembled a very accomplished creative team and staff in; Mark Thurston as percussion arranger with Bob Kogut in charge of the front ensemble, Rick Morey to pen the drill, Matt Krempasky brass arranger and Rick Delancy as color guard designer. Despite a fine staff, a highly entertaining fan friendly show and a determined small nucleus, the winter attendance was sparse. There was concern as to whether the Hurricanes would make the field! The worm began to turn in late spring as the appeal of the show became evident, while the perseverance and measured patience of the staff came to light and finally bore fruit. The show entitled “After Hours” featured selections of “Since I Don’t Have You,” “Nutville,” “Harlem Nocturne,” and “Jump, Jive & Wail” were learned in entirety well in time for the first show in Wildwood and was enthusiastically appreciated by the fans…a satisfying fan reaction that inspired renewed energy and dedication throughout the season. The Hurricanes of 2015 were never in contention for a top slot but they turned in a spirited, quality performance at the DCA Championship prelims, earning a berth in the top ten. The Corps ultimately finished in the tenth position.

  With Rich Warga now director, plans for 2016 were formulated. Rick Morey, visual design, and Matt Krempasky, brass arranger were joined by J.J. Pipitone, battery and front ensemble arranger and Manny Machado, guard design. The new show was themed "Freedom" and featured the tunes; Amazing Grace, Freedom, Nelle Tue Mani, and Freedom Trilogy. In the year 2017 another quality creative staff was engaged. Ray Fallon Jr. wrote the brass arrangements, Tom Gasperini and Matt Hahn penned the battery and front ensemble respectively, Kevin Bell crafted the visual program and Bella Cataudella created the guard design. The show drew on the music from the venerable Gershwin work "Porgy & Bess" with selections of; My Man's Gone Now, Summertime, Bess- You Is My Woman Now,  It Ain't Necessarily So, and Oh, Lord, I'm On My Way. These two years proved to be uneventful with regard to advancing the prospects of the Corps. Although the shows produced were solid and very competitive, the Hurcs, however, lacked the horsepower to be serious contenders as they finished tenth and thirteenth respectively.

  Brian ‘Soap” Maroldt took on the duties of director for the upcoming 2018 season and change was in the air. He assembled a young energetic administrative staff as well as an educational staff consisting entirely of accomplished Hurricanes. The positive energy generated by the leadership took a hold on the Corps and reflected in attendance, recruiting and a new level of excitement! Program coordinator and visual designer Kevin Bell, along with Key Poulan, brass arranger, Tony Gamble, battery arranger, Michael Wyatt, front ensemble arranger and Bella Cataudella, color guard design put their heads together and crafted a show based on Greek mythology, titled “Clash Atop Olympus,” replete with original compositions by the writers.

Accompanying the fresh outlook and enthusiasm were new uniforms. The striking new uniform features a bright, contemporary design reflecting the time honored Hurricane identity…lightning! The uniform is basic black, highlighted by a very prominent field of vivid green lightning striking the right chest, right arm, and right upper leg. It’s topped with a black shako and a black plume, also highlighted in vivid green.

  The newer membership responded with zeal to excel and thrived in the revived atmosphere enveloping the Corps. The many inexperienced members benefited greatly from the influence and example put forth by a tested nucleus, further, longtime vets such as Henry Flores, Charles Lubarisse, Tyler Propfe, Rebecca Freel, Sal Flores, Brian White and Lauren Sember, Gary Smith, and Ken Votre exemplified the “can do” attitude that prevailed over the past three years. The Hurricanes had a satisfying and fun season in 2018 and finished in ninth place with an 85.275 score…the highest in four years

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The downward cycle seems to have been reversed and optimism abounds as the Hurricanes enter the off season to plan and prepare for their 88th year; they’ll stay true to their mission with high aspirations for 2019… They are after all “The Pride of Connecticut” and will always “walk proud and tall!”  




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