Following the '68 season most of the corps members and staff were eager to prepare for the new season. They were convinced that 1969 would become the "First Federal Blue Stars" finest year. It was to be the oldest (member's age) and most talented corps in the organization's short history.
The corps was selected to lead the La Crosse Oktoberfest Mable Leaf parade on Oct., 6, 1968, and won first place in the Jr. Corps Divsion. The corps also marched in the Torchlite Parade.
Our new director for 1969 would be David Kampschroer. Mr. Kampschroer, along with Dave Dummer and Frank Van Voorhis, were founders of the corps. At that time Mr. "K" was the elementary principal in Evansville, Wl. Under his direction the remainder of the '69 staff was named: Frank Van Voorhis (M&M Drill Design), Terry Thirion (Percussion Instructor and Arranger), Rick Young (Brass Instructor and Arranger), Ed Lau (Equipment Manager), Jon Bentz (served during the winter as resident director), and Ted Johnson (Coordinator of A & B Corps), Additional advisors were: Gary "Chops" Czopinski (M & M), John Gates (Brass), Tom Larsen (Percussion), Tru Crawford (Arranger), Ken Norman (Arranger), and Roger Gran (Arranger). Chosen to lead the corps on the field were Drum Majors George Moore, Dick McConoughy, and Color Guard Sgt. Judy Kludt.
It was determined that the repertoire for the 1969 season would be Fanfare from "El Cid" and "Stouthearted Men" (Opener), "Red's, White and Blue March" (Flag Presentation), theme from "The Odd Couple" (Intro Concert), "In the Halls of the Mountain King" (Concert), the "Trolley Song" (Production), and "Our Day Will Come" (Closer).
"Our Day Will Come" had become the unofficial corps song representing the opinions of the staff, members, and many drum corps reporters and writers. Drum Corps Digestwriter Dave Shaw in his article "The Power Elite;' included the Blue Stars in his list of thirteen potential National Title winners for 1969. Additional writers who wrote of the corps potential were Tom Wrzesinski and Dan Feldstein who saw "good times for the Long Blue Line".
The winter was extremely productive with over ninety per cent of the membership living in the immediate area. By June the corps was not only ready to compete but, in some opinions, was in mid-season form, especially in brass execution.
The Blue Stars first competition for 1969 was in Geneseo, Ill., on June 15. This show demonstrated the wide range of emotional highs and lows found in competition. The corps performance was both inspired and controlled. It was lauded by many other staff and corps members as a First Place Performance. When the results were announced the Blue Stars were in a distant 3rd place (60.40) behind 2nd place Des Plaines Vanguard (71.40) and the 1st place Cavaliers (72.10) The corps score became even more bizarre when the score sheets were analyzed to reveal over 100 errors recorded in the intonation area. The results shocked the staff and members. A full corps meeting was immediately held to determine whether or not the group would dedicate enough to accept the challenge of playing "catch~up" for the rest of the season. After much discussion the membership and staff declared their intention to continue the season and to continue to work toward that excellence that was becoming the trademark of the Blue Stars.
The second annual Mississippi Rhapsody was held on Sun., June 29. The event included both parade and field competition with the First Federal Blue Stars appearing in exhibition. Rain plagued the competion. Even so, over 2,000 fans attended to see the Kilts win 1st place (79.00) and the St. Paul Scouts win the parade award.
By the Dixon, Illinois show on July 6, the corps had climbed to within four points of the Cavies. Later in the month the corps won its fourth consecutive Minnesota American Legion State Championship. The scores continued to fluctuate from the midsixties to the low seventies.
The traditional "PreNationals Tour" show was held at Delevan, Wisconsin, and American Legion Nationals Contests. The corps finished in fifth place with a score of 71.90. The Kilts won the show with 77.80 points.
The 96 member Blue Stars longest (over 3500 miles) and most comprehensive tour began on July 30. In addition to competition in corps made use of time provided for sight-seeing Niagra Falls, Gettysburg, and Philadelphia. The corps also stayed with Boston families while in that area.
On Sat., Aug. 16, the corps competed in the CYO Nationals held at Lowell, Mass. This was the corps first appearance in the CYO. The group was well received somewhat due to the fact that it was the first time that girls had performed in shorts for a CYO crowd. During the finale as the scores were being announced, it became evident that only the top five scores and places would become public. After not hearing its name associated with fifth through second places, the corps members and staff became excited at the prospect of its first national title. But the title was not in the cards that night. The Blue Stars finished in sixth place with a score of 72.35.
On the following day the corps competed in Bridgeport, Conn., and headed for "Philly".
The Blue Stars arrived at Temple University, Philadelphia, Penn., on Mon., Aug. 18. On that Wed., Aug. 20, the corps (representing Thomas Rooney Post 1530 of La Crosse) competed in its third VFW National Competition. The Blue Stars finished 9th (out of 63 competing corps) in the preliminaries with the score of 85.25. The corps, once again, moved up in the finals by finishing in 7th place (82.15) which included a third in M&M execution. The Racine Kilts became the 1969 VFW National Champions (88.50) before 20,000 spectators in the Veterans Stadium.
Following VFW, the corps headed south. The Blue Stars arrived in the Atlanta, Georgia area on Fri., Aug. 22, and began preparing for the American Legion National Championships. The organization learned that the boys and girls would have to stay at separtate buildings a few miles apart making it difficult to organized the meals and practices. In addition, some corps, including the Troopers, experienced problems with the food and water.
The prelims were to begin on Sat., Aug. 23, at Dunwoody High School. But due to rain they were postponed to 2:30 and had to be held on the parking lot of Western Electric Co. Thirtyone corps were scheduled to compete, but only 20 corps participated. The Blue Stars, representing GittensLeidel Post 595 of the American LegionLa Crescent, scored a surprising (and questionable) 70.00 to finish in 9th place. The finals were to include the top seven corps. Because of the many frustrations of the season and especially those of the American Legion Championships, the staff decided to go home. Sometime between the conclusion of the preliminaries and the Aug. 24th finals someone decided to expand the finals to include "Skyryders" and the Blue Stars. By the time word reached the corps it was well on its way home. The Chicago Cavaliers became the 1969 American Legion Champions.
A year of mixed emotions and frustration came to a happy ending with the corps final three contests held over the Labor Day weekend. In Racine, the corps won 1st place in the Kilts' show. In Wausau (the next night), the Blue Stars finished a close 2nd to the Kilts. And finally, in Janesville, the First Federal Blue Stars defeated the National Champion Kilts to become one of only four other corps to defeat them in 1969. The other corps were the Cavies, Troopers, and the Des Plaines Vanguard.
Having completed the 1969 season on a "high note", the staff and members of the corps not only were looking forward to the new season, but to the new decade as well. A new decade that would hopefully find the First Federal Blue Stars as "The Corps of the Seventies".
Author: Rick Young
1969 VFW Nationals-Philadelphia
4. Boston Crusaders
5. Blessed Sacrament
6. Des Plaines Vanguard
7. Blue Stars
8. Blue Rock
9. Anaheim Kingsmen
10. St. Joe's of Batavia
11. Garfield Cadets
12. Argonne Rebels
"Stout Hearted Men"
"Reds, White, and Blue"
"Hall of the Mountain King"
"Our Day Will Come"
Through the years, the Blue Stars have meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The corps has offered the setting for development of young people for almost 20 years. It has given young people opportunities to do things that he or she would not have been able to do anywhereelse. A memory that lives on in the hearts of all.
The corps brought many lasting friendships, including 27 couples that met with the corps and were married. The corps was extra special to them.
As for the activity, the Blue Stars were always looked upon as having class and a good performance for the fans. The corps was always welcomed warmly wherever they went. The activity will long remember the corps.