Founded in 1934 in Garfield, New Jersey, The Cadets are the third oldest continually operating drum and bugle corps next to the Racine Scouts (1920) and have one of the most extensive histories of any drum and bugle corps active today. They initially were sponsored by the Holy Name parish and were called the Holy Name Cadets. The Holy Name parish would not sponsor the corps in the 1958 American Legion Finals so the corps competed as the Garfield Cadets. The name of the corps was changed officially to the Garfield Cadets as Holy Name parish ceased their relationship with the corps. Many years later, the corps' name changed to Cadets of Bergen County and eventually simply to The Cadets.
They hold several distinctions, being one of the few charter corps of DCI who have attended every championship held, being the only World Class (formerly Division I) corps to step off on the right foot, as well as being the second most successful corps in the DCI circuit with nine world champion titles over three decades. The Cadets have moved their headquarters from Bergen County, New Jersey, to Allentown, PA, where the DCI Eastern Classic is held. The corps is known for unique and risky moves, such as using vocals throughout an entire show.
The Cadets have been DCI Division I World Champions nine times, in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1998, 2000 (undefeated), and 2005. The three consecutive victories from 1983-1985 were the first "three-peat" in DCI history, and is the only corps to do so without including a tie for the title with another corps. The corps has also placed second six times (1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2001, and 2007) and third five times (1982, 1996, 2002, 2003, and 2009).
In 2005, The Cadets won all caption awards as well as all sub-caption awards.The Cadets share the world record for the highest score in DCI history with a score of 99.150 with The Cavaliers (2002) for their 2005 show "The Zone: Dreamscapes in Four Parts with a Door,"
The corps can clearly trace its roots back to its founding. Its uniforms have remained virtually unchanged since the late 1930s except for a major although temporary change in 1958 and part of 1959. For the 1958 nationals the Cadets copied the Scout House uniforms with white shorts, golf style of shirt, and Aussie type hat because Holy Name Parish could not or would not allow the use of the Cadet uniforms for the 1958 Nationals. Through part of 1959, the Cadets marched with shorts and then returned to the typical style Cadet uniform in late 1959.
The corps frequently revisits the music that has won fans over in the past, such as Ron Nelson's Rocky Point Holiday. At the same time, the corps is a pioneering force in the evolution of Drum Corps as an art form. This was especially so during the early 1980s when the corps championed liberal use of asymmetric marching formations, including the famous "Z-Pull" by lauded drill designer George Zingali. The corps director, George Hopkins, has continued to express his desire that the drum corps activity evolve, with proposals to integrate non-brass instruments, electronic music, and similar musical reforms.
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