A proud eastern Iowa tradition is gearing up for its 50th season in 2013. The Colts Drum and Bugle Corps in Dubuque has big plans for its half-century mark.
At the Colts headquarters in downtown Dubuque Thursday afternoon, Jeff and Vicki MacFarlane, the corps' executive director and operations director, respectively, were busy gearing up for this group's 50th season. The Colts organization includes the Colts as well as the junior group, the Colts Cadets.
"Drum Corps is, for someone who's never seen it, I guess you could say, like professional marching band," Jeff MacFarlane said. "Our students pay a tuition to come to us every summer."
This corps of 150 young men and women, generally ages 16 through 21, competes nationally every summer and has a rich history in Dubuque. Founded in 1963, teens and young adults have marched in time throughout the years, including both Jeff and Vicki MacFarlane, who - through the group - found their passion for more than just music.
"Both Jeff and I sort of incidentally, through volunteerism, ended up in more significant roles with the organization," Vicki said. "He wanted to get more involved in the organization and started volunteering, so we roped him into more and more tasks, and over the past seven years have gotten to know each other better."
"Starting here at the Colts in 2005, I became friends with one of the local employees here," Jeff said. "After numerous years of courtship, we actually were married in September."
"'Finally married,' as some would say," Vicki said with a laugh. "It was about time."
"It's kind of funny how all that life twisted in the way it did," Jeff added.
The two are now working side-by-side to prep for the season ahead.
Snazzy new uniforms mark the 50th anniversary, and the colts are currently in the process of raising funds for those.
The group needs to match 25 percent of a $40,000 grant from the Dubuque Racing Association, which has given the Colts more than $300,000 since 1987.
"We actually have a fundraising opportunity now, where, for 65 dollars, you can actually dedicate a uniform, and we'll stitch your name into one of the new jackets, and it will be there for the entirety of that uniform," Jeff MacFarlane said.
These uniforms will clothe future community leaders, MacFarlane said.
"Students who come to the Colts learn much more than just music, for sure. It is very much a leadership program," he said.
Plus, one never knows when a budding musician may also discover a budding romance, as the MacFarlanes did.
The Colts are raising money for their uniforms as well their 50th Anniversary Fund for Excellence, which will go toward instruments and travel expenses, among other costs.
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