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Melrose BlackHawks Senior Drum and Bugle Corps

2016 New Jersey American Legion State Champions
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Melrose Blackhawks
Senior Drum & Bugle Corps
Established 1979


"I had a dream..." these were the words spoken by Jim Kilcomins of South Amboy, NJ when he began calling some of the former members who marched with the Melrose Junior Drum & Bugle Corps in the late 1950's early 1960's.

Jim's question was simple- "What do you think about the idea of putting the Corps back on the street for one more parade for Memorial Day 1979?" A meeting held at Jim's house was all it took for some former members to get back into drum corps. Many had not played a drum or bugle for over 20 years-which had to be an experience in itself!

The first meeting resulted in playing two of the old songs. This was amazing to Jim. A short time later, you could find Melrose playing and marching outdoors, most of the time rehearsing at the Landfill behind the D.A.V. building or up and down John, Rosewell and George streets.

Our first horn line instructor was a former Melrose member, Ralph Tarallo. Pinky Bloodgood and Cobert Bowie (who was a Drum Corps legend himself) were the drum line instructors. Judy Jarusiewicz and Rose Bowie gave their all to help the Color Guard.

There was a small matter of uniforms. The old uniforms from the junior corps were worn by the color guard. The rest of the corps dressed in black short sleeve shirts, black dress pants, black shoes, and socks. Mrs. Katherine Abbatiello of Henry Street made the handmade hats. Kay Bloodgood made drop sashes to hang from the belt.

Memorial Day 1979, Jim's dream came true - the corps came together and marched the first parade as the new Melrose Blackhawks Senior Drum and Bugle Corps - but it was nowhere near the last parade! Since that start in 1979, Melrose has purchased new equipment and gone through several uniform changes.

The corps has paraded throughout New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania bringing home numerous first place trophies. Sponsored by the American Legion T. Nultey Post #471 of Islin, Melrose became the New Jersey American Legion Senior Parade Champions for the first time in 1983 and again in 1984. This is a title the corps was particularly proud of having by defeating a corps that held the title for many years.

Today the Blackhawks can boast a history filled with championships - including being American Legion Champions 6 of 7 years straight and Garden State Champions at the NJ Elks Convention for several years beginning in 1987. Other accomplishments include being the first senior drum & bugle corps to march in Disney World's Magic Kingdom in 1991. Traveling to Baltimore, MD; Indianapolis, IN; and Pittsburgh, PA to represent the state of New Jersey at the American Legion National Conventions. We have traveled to Lake George and Monticello, NY to compete in the NY State Fireman's convention parade.

On the Blackhawk's 10th anniversary in 1989, the corps took to the high seas. A cruise to Bermuda gave the corps a great chance to relax and reminisce about our first 10 years together. On the 20th anniversary in 1999, the corps again took to the high seas for a fun-filled dinner cruise on the Cornucopia Princess.

Over the years, MANY people have contributed to the success of the Blackhawks. Although there is not room here to thank everyone personally, we thank each and every person who as been a part of the Blackhawk family - for without YOU, the Blackhawks would be just another drum corps.