It is a very big year for the La Crosse Blue Stars
drum and bugle corps.
The group is celebrating its 50th anniversary season.
In recent years.
the Blue Stars have seen tremendous success - but
it hasn't always been smooth sailing for the organization.
In fact one local family knows very well just how
far this corps has come.
News 8's Jennifer Livingston and photographer Kirk
Arneson bring us this in search of report.
The La Crosse Blue stars are one of the top Drum and
Bugle corps in the nation.
There's a tremendous amount of dedication to be in
From sunrise SUN SHOT! to sunset and beyond...these
musicians practice, perfect and perform....competing
all across the country.
It's not for the faint at heart.
Brad Furlano is the executive director of the corps
and a former member and he knows exactly how hard
this commitment can be.
Just yesterday I watched many of the 2014 members
They're hurting and frustrated but they are persevering.
And I've done this enough to know what the transformation
will be that it's all about the hard work and achievement
and the excellence.
It's an amazing thing to see a young adult go through
it is remarkable.
It is one of the greatest joys of my life to see young
Something the corps has provided for 50 years now.
The Blue Stars 'start' came back in 1964.
At that time it - was just a color guard,
But when year two rolled around nat pop or drums rolling
the drums and brass were added...and success followed
They grew to one of the top corps in the country in
But it didn't last.
In the early 80's, the corp experienced some financial
difficulty and the Blue Stars did what's called folding
so they were no more.
That could have been the end of the Blue Stars story.
Fortunatelly while one group was folding - another
- was beginning to form.
The 1982 season which was the blue stars final season
they started the Blue stars cadets as well.
The 'cadets' were geared towards younger musicians...ages
10 to 12...musicians about the age of the Furlano
Brian, Brent, Brad, Bruce, Brandon...
I marched with the Blue Stars from '82 to '86.
I played soprano and melaphone.
:53 I am Brent Furlano and I marched with the Blue
stars from 1982-91 when I aged out.
"I played the snare drum."
My name is Brad - I was in the Blue stars from 1982
to 1993 and I was the drum major.
My name is Bruce Furlano and I marched with the blue
stars from 1988 to 1997.
:35 I started out playing the soprano....The equivalent
of the trumpet." :43 "I played melaphone for a couple
The equivalent of a French horn.
And then was a drum major the last 4 years."
I'm Brandon Furlano, I marched with the Blue stars
from 1993 to 2001.
I am the youngest brother.
I was in the front ensemble.
I was also drum major.
Brian, Brent Brad Bruce and Brandon." "What's with
the 'B' names? I have no idea."
Toward the end Brenda was really the goal in mind
but it didn't really happen.
The Furlano Five were a part of the corps during its
most vulnerable and unstable era.
The cadets grew into one of the top small drum corps
in the country.
But there was always the hope of more.
Of returning to its former glory.
In the early 2000 myself and a number of other people
decided that life as a small group was not a great
place to try and live anymore.
"We need to make this bigger and better.
Better organizationally, better on the field and in
In 2006 the Blue stars
returned to world class competition."
For us to think we could do that....to go from where
we were to where we are, when I look back I think
it was a crazy notion that it could happen.
But at the time we thought we could and luckily we
Still a lot of pride that I was able to help start
that tradition up again.
To see them grow and achieve dreamed we could have
just dreamed of at the time.
When you see them go on the field today as a world
class corp they are still pushing the boundaries on
the field and it's kind of neat because our family
was part of that rebuilding process.
When we are in the stands it all comes back.
It brings you back to a time when we were there and
We're just proud of the kids that are still making
It's pretty neat.
I watch them in awe.
The skill that they have today - it's just amazing
They work really hard to accomplish a lot of things.
As I think back to Blue stars and my time in it...it
ends up being less about the music and less about
marching and more about the life skills I learned.
Being a leader, how to interact with peiople, what
it means to do a professional job.
Long days and what it takes to perfect your craft
and have set backs.
Yes I don't play the trumpet anymore.
But I remember the friends and the life lessons I
The Blue Stars will always be a big part of who I
am and who my family is...
It's something that will never leave me.
being a part of the corp
50 years of entertaining.
A milestone certainly worth celebrating...
With a future as bright as the stars.
start quick collage edits
In La Crosse with photographer Kirk Arneson...Jennifer
End collage and music
It is truly all in
the family for the Furlano's fur-lahn-ohs.
Three of the brothers met their wives in the blue
And their parents Avis and Joe have been such amazing
volunteers - they were inducted into the Blue Stars
hall of fame.
As of right now there have been no second generation
Furlano's in the Blue Stars but we are told there
are some up and coming candidates...
Now If you would like to see the Blue Stars for yourself.
mark your calendar's for this Saturday, July 12th
for Drum Corps International's first regional of the
15 drum corps will perform at Veterans Memorial Field
on the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse campus.
Gates open at ...the event begins at .
For more information or to buy tickets, head to blue
stars dot org.