In the spring of 1962, Fr. McGarry, the Pastor of St. Patrick's Parish, told Sisters Cristoval and Benno that St. Patrick's School needed a drum and bugle corps. Since then approximately 5,200 students have performed, traveled, and socialized in a manner that most people only wish for. From these roots came the Irish tradition as well as the multiple shades and ways of wearing the color green.
The first name given the corps was "The Imperials of St. Patrick". The first instructors who all lived in Milwaukee's South Side were all members of the nationally ranked Norwood Park Imperials.
1961-1970- The corps purchased equipment The uniforms were donated by Walter Kendon and the Westmont V.F.W. Post. There were a lot of beginning 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students being taught the basics of marching and instrument playing. Competing in the Class C and B areas was abundant. The purchase of our own buses to travel to the out of state contests made for the solid development of the corps. All rehearsals took place either at the school or the nearby St. John's Gymnasium. At this time there were 12 corps in the Milwaukee area.
1971-1979- The seventies decade was an era where the operational costs of the Corps surpassed our fundraising abilities. A nearby suburban Corps, the Tunderblots, was also in need. A merger took place between the two Corps which created a 150 member Corps, financial stability, and a temporary name, "The Thing". An offer of sponsorship from Mr. Jack Dryer of the Pioneer Box and Container Corporation inspired the Corps to take on the Pioneer name. A very strong brass line was the feature, supported two cadet Corps that rehearsed in the Cedarburg, WI Community Center. New green suede and vinyl uniform jackets fit the name but proved to be impractical, so another change to a bright yellow coat took place as well as the Corps' theme, "The Great Entertainer". This carried out to the end of the decade, "The Pioneer" from Cedarburg, WI.
1980-1989- The early eighties started out very well with two winter trips to the New Orleans' Mardi Gras. The membership shifted back to the Milwaukee area and the Cedarburg cadet Corps became independent of the Pioneer. A draught in membership caused the focus towards the shift to the cadet corps, rebuilding of the membership, new military style jackets, and sponsorship by the Milwaukee Boys and Girls Club fostered by its executive director, Mr. Wally Watson. This created a breath of fresh air into the Corps.
1989- The Pioneer became finalists at Drum Corps Midwest (DCM) and the US Open and finished an the top 10 Drum Corps International (DCI) A-60 Division. New Irish military uniforms were added to the visual arsenal.
1990- The Pioneer win their first DCM A-60 Championship title. They also become the third best DCI A-60 Drum Corps.
1991- National recognition was prominent, with the Pioneer defending the DCM A-60 title successfully, and they also took top honors at the US Open and DCI, winning the A-60 World Championship.
1992- Once again, the Pioneer win the DCM Division III title, and in addition a US Open and Canadian Open Championship Title.
1993- Pioneer moves up to Division II competition and takes the transition smoothly by taking a fourth DCM Championship title, this time in Division II.
1994- Pioneer continues its winning ways by winning yet another DCM Division II title and continued to be undefeated DCI Division II World Champions.
1995- The Pioneer takes its first full DCI tour, the 95 member corps included young adults from 11 states and the nations of Holland and Japan. Pioneer defended the DCM and DCI Division II status successfully. In addition, the Pioneer received the Spirit of Disney Award.
1996- Pioneer wins its seventh straight DCM championship, and also won the Canadian Open. Pioneer becomes a full voting member of DCI as it achieves DCI membership status for the third consecutive year.
1997- Pioneer made the next step and continued to be "Better Every Day". The next being that the Pioneer competed solely in Division I competition this year. For our inaugural year in Division I, we were just 5 members short of being a "full" 128 members. The corps climbed to 19th place in the DCI Quarterfinals.
1998- The corps returned to an emphasis on "Audience Appeal" and our niche, our Irish Heritage. With a program entitled "Irish in Your Face", written by a group of East Coast Sr. Corps writers, the corps energized the crowd with its loud brass and large drum line. Adding to the corps heritage, Pioneer introduced new uniforms consisting of khaki pants, with a black jacket, and lots of green, orange, and white to go with it. The corps finished 18th at the DCI Quarterfinals in Orlando, FL… but the crowds enthusiasm for our show energized the organization for the necessary challenges that 1999 would bring.
1999- Reminiscent of the Celtic warriors of the 9th and 10th century who roamed in small bands throughout the countryside doing battle with larger forces, Pioneer carried on that valiant tradition and ventured forth with its smallest corps in several years to compete in Division I for the third consecutive year. Under the direction of William Strube, our small corps of warriors took the field in competition and proved that if you believe in yourself, work hard, and strive to be "Better Every Day", you can make dreams come true. Our "Field of Dreams" became Camp Randall when the corps of 81 members achieved a spot in DCI semifinals, placing 17th.
2000- Back to Back Semifinalists! Not to mention 16th in the World, best that Pioneer has ever finished. The corps became one of the most exciting, entertaining, and crowd pleasing corps of 2000 with their production of Brigadoon. Once again, another season that exemplifies our corps motto, "Better Every Day".
2001- Pioneer continued to entertain crowds with another Irish program entitled "Irish in the Civil War". The program portrayed the struggle that Irish settlers faced as they were forced into battle during the Civil War. The corps posted strong results throughout the season. The day at DCI Quarterfinals proved to be disappointing. With the addition of new sashes to the uniform, the corps looked sharp on the field. The performance, however, fell just short of what was necessary to take the corps back to semifinals for a third straight year. Still, it was a season to remember!
2002- With a smaller corps than in previous years, Pioneer took to the field and used a unique design to put on the production "Oliver". Under the direction of new corps director John-Michael Hines, the corps used benches to outline the field and placed the pit at the rear of the field. The original show left fans whistling tunes from the show as they headed for their cars after the show. The corps placement, however, left many fans and members disappointed. The corps slipped to 22nd at DCI and missed making the year end CD's for the first time since 1994.
2003- Pioneer ventured off into the unknown with a show based on the music of David Holsinger. Under the direction of John-Michael Hines the corps brought an enjoyable show to the field and entertained fans with numerous uniform changes throughout the season. Most notable was the addition of new United States Marine Corps style caps for the corps in July! The corps rounded out the season with a strong performance at DCI.
2004- Fielding the largest corps in years, Pioneer took to the field for the 43rd year with a notable return to Irish flavored music. The corps also made a memorable return to the days of the "Great Entertainer" by returning to Mardi Gras in mid-February! The corps was honored at Mardi Gras as the best unit in the Napoleon Parade and the members took away memories that will last a lifetime. The corps achieved 5 first place finished in DCM competition and rounded out the DCM season with its first ever DCM Division I championship. The season continued and the corps breezed through the DCI season right into Denver, CO where they were nearly blown off the field during their Quarterfinals performance. Bad weather and all, the corps finished off the season with a strong performance and left fans eager to see the corps continue to grow in 2005!
2005- The 2005 season saw an increase in the Pioneer's brass line as well as a lot of "Irish zest" to our performances. The rehearsal site was changed to Cudahy High School and Pioneerland's drives and parking lots received smooth asphalt paving which gave us a much cleaner environment!
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