Guarding early morning memories

Live at Winter Guard International

By Jim Bucher


About this time every year, my friend Carly Davidson gets a little “verklempt,” choked up.

“Buch, my kids are grown and in college, but for years I schlepped them around in the soccer mom van, with flags and costumes hither and yon all over the Miami Valley for WGI,” she says. “I have to tell you, it was a bit taxing on old mom, here, not to mention our 2002 Dodge Caravan, but great memories that will last my lifetime and theirs.”

Carly is talking about Winter Guard International: Sport of the Arts, celebrating 40 years, many of course right here in the Dayton region where the WGI championships take place. It brings together the world’s top indoor color guard, percussion, and winds teams to compete for top honors right here—some 12,000 folks.

Personally, I love it because hotels and restaurants are packed, adding some 15 million bucks to our local economy over the two weekends in April.

“We personally added half that to the cause,” Davidson says.

It’s true—I’ve witnessed her packed-to-the-gills van, but never could understand why we, as a community, weren’t rolling out the red carpet for the WGI faithful. Now, don’t get me wrong. Our Convention and Visitors Bureau always is a cheerleader for the cause, but overall it seemed to be ho-hum at best.

Being born and raised here, I knew how much it mattered. I was always pitching story ideas at Channel 2 on the influx of thousands of youngsters, chaperones, and parents descending upon the valley. It’s the least we could do.

So, I put my money where my mouth is. Many early mornings, we’d set up live on TV to showcase a local school, or one many, many miles from home.

Here’s how my phone call would go with Bart Woodley, director of operations and sponsor relations for WGI:

Buch: Bart, hey, it’s Jim Bucher with Channel 2.

Bart: Hey, Buch, what’s up?

Buch: Well, we want to showcase one of the participating schools on air live during the broadcast.

Bart: Awesome, when are you looking to do this?

Buch: Tomorrow at 4:30.

Bart: Great shouldn’t be a problem, can do. See you at 4:30 p.m.

Buch: No Bart, 4:30 a.m.

Bart: [silence]

Buch: Hello. Hmm, must have been disconnected.

But seriously, Bart was great. Always making sure the youngsters would be up, ready to perform. And of course, lots and lots of color and pageantry.

Some years, we’d set-up in the University of Dayton Arena’s parking lot, the Nutter Center, or possibly Fairborn High School.

And we’d do something a bit taboo for the TV news biz: we wouldn’t do much talking, which, as most of you know, is tough for me. We’d let the students do what they do best—perform.

A few of my sidebar stories made air, too. Like, why can’t I get a hotel room for two weekends? Or into my favorite restaurant? Or, why are all these buses, trailers, and kids taking up any and every flat-paved surface within 50 square miles?

Trust me, it’s all good. We can put up for just two weekends with what some may call “a little inconvenience.” Please, no complaints.

What worries me, though, is WGI could go anywhere. Rumor has it Indianapolis and other bigger cities have courted the group.

Should we do more? You bet. Can we really afford (editorial comment coming) to lose this prestigious event, as we did with the Vandalia Trap Shoot?

Just ask the restaurant owners and hotel managers up that way how much they miss the cash in the coffers during that huge event.

So, Buch, what can we do? Glad you asked.

If you see a bunch of youngsters departing a bus and heading into the golden arches, welcome them. Thank the gang for coming to Dayton and our region.

Ask them or their chaperones if there’s anything they need help with. I don’t believe they have much down time, but how about a reminder of our first-class Air Force Museum, the Wright Brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar history, or maybe even a trip to Carillon Park? Just a couple of off-time entertainment activities.

Or buy tickets and experience the mind-blowing, choreographed performances yourself. They really are somethin’.

Let’s protect, not react. No one wants to hear about a move to another location and think, damn, why didn’t we do more?

For now, welcome Winter Guard, we’re all glad you’re here.




For more on this year’s Winter Guard International, go to the cover story on page 20. 

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at

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