Utica’s Magnificent Yankees
Who were Utica’s Magnificent Yankees? And why do they have a special group of bricks outside the entrance to the Pitcher Street Post Office? Do you recognize any of these names? Here’s what we learned about this local group of Veterans.
The MAGNIFICENT YANKEES, organized in 1961, was a junior marching and maneuvering corps based in Utica, New York. They were sponsored by Utica American Legion Post 229. The corps’ colors were red, white, and black. The Magnificent Yankees won titles in the Hudson-Berkshire Circuit, New York-Canadian Circuit, and New York State American Legion Circuit in the mid-1960s. Signature tunes were “John Henry” and “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.” One of its staffers was “Pappa” Joe Berthold, who had been active in drum corps for 60 years. The corps merged with the Syracuse Marauders in 1975 to form the Yankee Marauders. (Encyclopedia of Drum & Bugle Corps, 1966; The Drum Corps Repetoire Database)
Longtime residents of the area have undoubtedly heard of or even know someone who performed with Magnificent Yankees over the years. Folks fondly remember the music they made and their spectacular performances. The members and their families formed life long bonds that are cherished to this day. The project to place these commemorative bricks was started by Richard Mitchell and Ed Washburn.
Richard Mitchell played in Magnificent Yankees from 1962 until 1966, when he joined the Navy. His close friend, Ed Washburn, was a member of the corps from its beginning in 1961 until 1967. They first got the idea of buying bricks at the Utica Post Office location 5 years ago, and have continued adding bricks as they found other alumni from the 60’s era marching group. Mitchell said it was initially quite a project tracking down contact information, but thanks to the internet they have found a tremendous number of people who were Veterans and members of the corps. There are now more than 50 bricks at the Post Office, and still growing.
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