Sally Ann Shurmur: Troopers Pack A Punch At Packed House

Columnist Sally Ann Shurmur writes, "Those who know me had to know I would write about the Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps at some point. I have been a fan since I was in junior high and they were world champions."

Sally Ann Shurmur

July 04, 20245 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Those who know me had to know I would write about the Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps at some point.

I have been a fan since I was in junior high and they were world champions.

In my professional life, only two stories that I really wanted to do eluded me.

One was riding with a Star-Tribune driver as he dropped not only bundles to convenience stores and post offices before dawn’s early light, but also single copies to those remote mail boxes right along the highway.

The other was riding a Trooper bus from performance to performance. The older I became, the more sure I was that those 18 to 21-year-olds would not want me on the bus.

The Troopers returned to Casper this year for spring camp, spending the entire month of June rehearsing at Kelly Walsh High School.

Stubborn me thinks they should do that every year, but with nearly all of the corps and staff from outside Wyoming, there are many obstacles.

So we are grateful they were here, providing free nightly concerts to those who live nearby and a metronome-enhanced, repetitive soundtrack for those out during the day.

On Saturday night, they premiered the 2024 program, “Dance with the Devil.”

Also performing were the Deer Creek Brass Ensemble and the Troopers Legacy Corps, made up of former Troopers and some longtime fans from throughout the country.

Built in 1979 and home to the all-class state track and field championships each spring, it shocks me that there are no railings down the steep concrete steps at Harry Geldien Stadium.

I watched as a legendary Trooper couple struggled to get down the steps to their seats. They were helped by folks from the crowd, and still it was a mighty struggle for them.

I was safe and sound on the concourse in my wheelchair with a seatbelt, tucked into a handicapped cutout with Owen in an office chair next to me.

We arrived insanely early but there was already a huge crowd.

A couple to my right were obviously parents of a Trooper, so I started to Sal chat, which always seems more like an interrogation.

They are first-year parents from Colorado and their daughter just graduated from high school. Although she had been in Casper since June 1, Mom said she had barely heard from her. I said that was because with days that start at 7 a.m. and end at 11 p.m., there isn’t a lot of free time.

They admitted to knowing nothing about drum corps, and said in addition to hoping to see their daughter for a few minutes, they came to take half of the stuff she packed home with them.

Once tour starts, there isn’t a lot of room for luggage.

The Deer Creek Brass were entertaining, and the Legacy Corps was tremendous. Last August, the Legacy Corps ended a five-year project by performing at Drum Corps International World Championships in Indianapolis.

This year, many Legacy members wanted to continue, so they rehearsed via Zoom and came to Casper for a four-day event called TrooperCon, performing at David Street Station, Washington Park and Fort Caspar in addition to Saturday night.

Their program is what old-schoolers would remember from Troopers of decades ago.

“How the West was One,” “Magnificent Seven,” and “Battle Hymn Chorale,” were all included.

One of the Legacy members performs with a service dog at his side and one performs from a chair, but there is no denying their love for what they do.

The rifle squad brought the house down with a traditional Troopers rifle toss in a circle formation and they received several standing ovations from the capacity crowd.

Then it was time for the “A” corps, in new uniforms and a new-old prop.

Last year, the show theme was lassoing the sun, and a mammoth silver sunburst adorned the field.

This year, Troopers “Dance with the Devil,” and the same sunburst has been painted black.

The music is sensational and keeps the crowd engaged from beginning to end.

Recognizable “House of the Rising Sun,” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” combine with original pieces written for the Troopers.

The first full-frontal brass appearance hits the crowd deep in its soul, and the performance just builds from there.

As she wiped away tears as the final notes rang out, I asked Colorado mom what she thought.

“I had no idea what it would be, but I never thought it would be this,” she said.

Troopers have fanatical fans everywhere they go, and while it is very hard to describe, those 30 first 16-hour days do more than teach notes and drill.

Protecting the 65-year heritage that came before is equally as important as the music and the steps.

The Troopers’ 18 contests in 15 states begin this Friday in Astoria, Oregon.

The caravan of charter buses, staff RV’s, prop trucks and a food truck left Casper on Sunday at 10:30 p.m., bound for Rock Springs.

One of the staff RV’s used to belong to country star Luke Bryan.

The corps returns to Wyoming just once, next Friday, July 12, at South High School’s Bison Stadium in Cheyenne at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 reserved and $22 general admission, with $20 general admission available for seniors, students and military.

The goal is the DCI finals with 12 corps in Indianapolis on Saturday, August 10. Two years ago, the Troopers were 12th. Last year, they were 10th. This year, the Devil himself may have something to say about it.

Sally Ann Shurmur can be reached at:

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Sally Ann Shurmur