Color guards on parade at Third Saturday

SHEBOYGAN’S TOP HATS color guard marches in the town of Rhine Memorial Day parade in the mid-1970s. — Submitted photo SHEBOYGAN’S TOP HATS color guard marches in the town of Rhine Memorial Day parade in the mid-1970s. — Submitted photo WARNING: Should you happen to hear the sounds of drumlines emanating from Taylor Hill on Aug. 15 do not be alarmed. There is no emergency.

Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, the Sheboygan County Historical Museum will be holding an event that focuses on the history and tradition of color guards and similar groups in Sheboygan County.

The event will feature memorabilia, videos, demonstrations and the memories from the group’s members. There will also be a brat fry held during the day.

The background of color guards is military. For centuries, troops have rallied around their respective flags (colors) and honor guards were formed to protect these flags from capture or disgrace.

By the time of the American Civil War, simple flag and rifle choreography began to appear in military parade demonstrations. Veteran’s organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars formed their own ceremonial color guards.

Events between these group’s guards developed over time and the competitive independent color guard tradition was born. Youth color guards, often sponsored by the veteran’s organizations, started to become popular in the 1960s.

The first of the many Sheboygan County’s groups, the Buccaneers, was founded in 1961. These groups were formed to instill patriotism, discipline and teamwork as well as providing a welcome outlet for the area’s youth. They also provided the members an opportunity to travel to areas that they otherwise might not have.

The popularity of color guards in the county is evident by the number of these and similar groups (over a dozen through the years) formed and the sheer number of youth involved. The enthusiastic appreciation of the public was on display during parades and any other event that these groups performed for.

The quality of these groups is evident in that both the Buccaneers and Accents from little ol’ Sheboygan have national championships to their credit. Membership and interest in these groups began to wane by the 1980s as the number of other extracurricular activities available increased.

Sheboygan County’s last color guard group, Classic Reunion, which was made up primarily of veterans from the other groups, put on its final performance in 2014.

Among the many guest presenters expected for the day are Jack and Nita Fischer from the Top Hats and Classic Reunion, Scott Mehre, Sharon Pentek and Sandy Colby from the Sheboygan Youth Band which is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, Nicole Gilmer from JR Brass and Evolution, Barb Wessler and Kelly Callahan from the Buccaneers, Dan Bogenschuetz from the Accents and Classic Reunion, Chris Bersch from the Sheboyganites and the Saloettes, Karen Mavis from the Fallettes and Sherry Becker from the Sheboygan Elms Band.

We at the museum are hoping to arrange some demonstrations during the day exhibiting the skill and precision that these fine groups displayed.

Third Saturdays are historical presentations based on a particular topic. The informal presenters are local experts, primarily people who had a personal role in the topic locally. These presenters are generally placed at stations surrounded by memorabilia that will help them to tell their story.

The Sheboygan County Historical Museum has to date held more than 80 of these events since 2007 and welcomes you to join us on this special day honoring and celebrating Sheboygan County’s Color Guards.

Admission: $6 adults (18+), $5 seniors (62+), $4 youth (13-17), $2 children (6-12), under 6 and active military are free, as are members of the museum and their guests. Guests must be accompanied by the member.

The event is sponsored by: H.C. Denison Co., The Kohler Foundation, The Sheboygan Press, Windsor Family Foundation and Great Lakes Blue Printers Inc.

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