It’s early July and time for me to prepare for the annual ritual Carrie Robb and I enjoy together.

We are a pair of Thunder of Drums fans. Tuesday’s show will be our fourth outing together to the drum and bugle corps competition at Minnesota State University.

I have the drill down pat: I will pick up the advance tickets; she will bring the two portable chairs that fit so nicely over Blakeslee Stadium’s bleachers. I’ll arrive a bit early to claim seating with a good view of the football field where the eight groups will perform; Carrie’s husband, Don, will drive up near the entrance and drop her off. She and I will meet up close to the gate.

Thunder of Drums, sponsored by Mankato Kiwanis, presents an annual tour show by Drum Corps International.

Since I am younger half of our duo by about 20 years, I am the designated runner for food and beverages; Carrie is 83 and in charge of our show pamphlets and the pens we use to unofficially rate the competitors.

“I’m just an old lady who’s loved band music since she was a kid,” Robb said Monday during a conversation to finalize this year’s plan.

“I will do just about anything to go to a parade with marching bands.”

For the first time in many years, Robb didn’t travel to St. Peter to see bands play in the town’s Fourth of July parade. She’s recovering from a recent foot surgery.

She will not take a pass on seeing her favorite marching band, the 77 Lancers, Tuesday night. The program for students in grades 8-12 will participate in the Thunder of Drums competition’s pre-show.

Robb was a member of a Man- kato Chamber of Commerce committee in the late 1970s when Clayton Tiede approached the group to discuss his idea for a marching band comprised of local youths.

“He had this dream about starting an all-city band,” Robb said.

Her affection for the young musicians and marchers began in 1978, the year the Lancers were established.

“I’ve always loved them and I’ll be there to see them,” Robb said, adding that ice packs and soothing ointments are helping relieve pain in her tender toes.

She’ll try to stay off her feet as much as possible.

Lancers members, however, were on theirs a lot during the holiday week as representatives of the Mankato area and District 77 schools. The group returned Saturday from its San Antonio tour in Texas.

Director Michael Thursby described the trip and the marching band’s Fourth of July exhibition performance as amazing.

“The weather was very nice, no humidity,” Thursby said.

Lancer-Thunder of Drum fans may have to endure some rain Tuesday night and perhaps, a delayed schedule. The weather forecast is predicting showers.

“The event can’t be rescheduled,” Thunder of Drums past chairman Howard Haugh said.

“These corps are on a tight schedule and they might have to travel 300 to 500 miles to the next show,” Haugh said.

Rain may cause delays in the performance schedule, so the audience should prepare for a longer stay in the bleachers.

“One thing they can count on is that we will never cancel prior to show time,” he said.

Guess I’ll have to check with my Thunder of Drums fan-friend to decide who’s in charge of bringing the umbrellas.

Edie Schmierbach is a Free Press staff writer. Contact her at eschmierbach@mankatofreepress.com.

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