OLPH Drum Corps celebrates 100 years

October 3, 2014 Jaime DeJesus
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Reunited and it feels so good. On Saturday, September 29 following the 48th annual Ragamuffin Parade, the Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) Drum Corps celebrated its 100th anniversary reunion at the school where it all started.

The group marched in the famous Bay Ridge parade, and then held a reception at the OLPH’s Notre Dame Hall.

“It brings back such great memories of growing up in this parish and all the opportunities we had,” said Jack Deacy, president of the alumni association. “We traveled all over the East Coast, learned how to play an instrument, discipline, how to work together. It kept us off the streets and out of trouble. The instruments were given to us. The uniforms were given to us. We paid 10 cents a week for musical instruction. It was amazing.”

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Memorabilia of the group over the years —  such as apparel, photographs, instruments, cassette tapes and letters — was on display. Food and drinks were served to the members and their families. The group was thrilled to be back together again.

“We’re just really happy about all of this,” said Bobby Steinhilber, who started the alumni association. “Imagine,  100 years. Very few things have been around in Bay Ridge for that long. Some of us have known each other since we were seven-years-old, since the grammar school days at OLPH.”

The alumni association was restarted in 2004. “One day I just got the notion to get the guys together and do the Norwegian Day Parade,” said Steinhibler. “The response was so overwhelming. I was hoping to get a dozen and I got many more.”

Thanks to the alumni association, the music plans to play on for future generations, with the ‘Little Ridgemen’. “We restarted the group. We have a bunch of new kids now. We’ll have a nice little band here at OLPH for the next 100 years,” said Steinhilber.

“We’ve donated about $20,000 to the parish. We bought a piano for the elementary school a couple of years ago,” added Deacy.

After lunch, the group got together once again to perform in front of friends and family. “This may sound dramatic, but a lot of us wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for this. We grew up in tough times,” said member Stephen L. “To have these friends 50 years later is just incredible.”

“Friendships were rekindled, marriages that resulted in children came out of this whole dynamic, so it was great,” added Steinhilber.

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