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History Home : About

In 1972, Canton police officers Babe Stearn and Ralph McCauley, the director and assistant director of the Canton Police Boys' Club, met with Canton businessman Art Drukenbrod to discuss an idea they had for a music program at the old Boys' Club.

Besides being a businessman, Mr. Drukenbrod was a musician who had played his drum with many of Canton's big bands over the years. He was also a member of Canton's American Legion and VFW's national champion senior drum and bugle corps. Drukenbrod provided the drum corps knowledge and instruction, with some help from his old drum corps buddies, while Stearn and McCauley provided the future musicians.

The young musicians chose the name "Bluecoats" in tribute to the police department's retired police officers and as a program of the Police Boys' Club, they made their drum corps debut in competition in 1974. Over the next several years, the Bluecoats organization transformed from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. As community support grew, so did the size and stature of the corps. By 1976, the Bluecoats were recognized nationally as an up-and-coming organization as they competed around the country and in Canada making the U.S. Open finals that year.

Old surplus army buses painted blue (one with trademark whitewall tires was commonly referred to as the "suburban" bus) carried the corps throughout the country. The army buses transformed into used school buses and then bloomed into air-conditioned motor coaches.

Three meals a day while on the road came from an abandoned U-Haul trailer, pulled by parents' cars which sometimes hauled fresh eggs, purchased a few pennies cheaper due to volunteers agreeing to collect and clean the eggs themselves. The old U-Haul eventually became a van and then an old travel trailer, before it blossomed into a restaurant kitchen on eighteen wheels.

The evolution of the Bluecoats was greatly encouraged and promoted when in 1984, another Canton businessman, Ted Swaldo, took the reins of the organization. Swaldo's management abilities and enthusiasm became the catalyst which not only propelled the Bluecoats into national recognition as a competitive unit, but also as a role model for other youth organizations throughout the country.

The first corps from Ohio to make the DCI finals, the Bluecoats have continually found themselves in high acclaim around the country for their crowd-pleasing jazz. Always a crowd favorite, applause for the Bluecoats soon grew into roaring chants of "Bluuuuue" as the corps continued its rise to international prominence.

Founded in and supported by the people of the "Hall of Fame City," Canton, Ohio, the Bluecoats and their world-renowned "Big Band Jazz" style have become Stark County's musical ambassadors, instilling excellence in youth through the challenge, excitement, creativity and self-discipline of drum and bugle corps.

Honors: DCI World Championship Finalist: 1987 - 1998, 2000-2012
Bronze Medal 2010 DCI World Championships
Great Lakes Drum Corps Association Champion: 1987, 1986, 1985
DCI East Finalist: 1993, 1992, 1991, 1988
DCI Midwest Finalist: 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988
DCI Canada Finalist: 1991, 1988, 1987, 1986
DCI South Finalist: 1987
US Open Finalist: 1993, 1987, 1986, 1976
US Open Class "A" Champion: 1981
American International Open Class "A" Champion: 1978
Great Lakes Championship 1978
DCM Championship Finalist: 1986 through 1993
DCE Championship Finalist: 1985
Ohio VFW State Champion: 1976 through 1984


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