Founded in Newark, NJ in May 1991 by former Newark City Councilman Ronald L. Rice; it was Councilman Rice’s vision to use this program as a measure to revive the rich history of drum & bugle corps within the city and deter city youth from perils and negativity. Through a sponsorship with the city’s department of recreation and cultural affairs, the City of Newark Marching 100 Drum & Bugle Corps was formed under the direction of Jack Drury a former Newark High School Principal and Basketball coach.
The Marching 100 was outfitted to serve 100 city youth with education and instruction of the drum corps and the marching arts. More importantly, the goal was to encourage youth involvement as a positive program. To everyone’s surprise, on Saturday, September 7, 1991 the Marching 100 would hold its first audition with over 200 children from the greater Newark area hoping to landed a spot in the corps. The Marching 100 made its premier debut on Tuesday, March 17, 1992 at the City of Newark’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. As the 80 members performed Councilman Rice marched alongside the corps the entire parade. The corps would go on to perform in several regional parades that year and later its first competition.
In the summer of 1992, the corps appeared in the Novice Division of the Garden State Circuit, a competitive drum corps circuit with organizations from the Northeast. The Marching 100 would go on in their debut and win the division championship. In 1993, the corps moved up to Division III and finished second overall in the championships. In 1994, the corps advanced again but this time finishing fourth overall in Division II.
In 1995, horn instructor Herbie Wright passed away, and in his honor the corps changed its name to Spirit of Newark. The corps had once again moved up, this time to Division I finishing second overall. From 1996 through 1998 the corps placed third in the Division II competition. During the winter prior to the 1998 competition season, corps director Jack Drury decided to retire, and a new management began under the direction of Glenn Eng. Glenn Eng managed the corps as Executive Director from 1998 through his untimely death in 2012. In 2000, the corps Implemented an exchange program with the Field Band Foundation of South Africa. The program gave the exchange students from South Africa a first-hand look at the exciting world of drum and bugle corps here in the United States. The corps also competed for the first time in DCI (add the full name of DCI) and at the World Championships placing 26th out of 32 corps from around the globe in DCI’s Division III.
From 2001 through 2012 Spirit of Newark changed its name to Spirit of New Jersey and back to Spirit of Newark in efforts to attract and increase a broader range of membership. The corps traveled to the DCI Championships on their summer tour to Denver, CO in 2004 placing 17th, Madison, WI in 2006 placing 12th and as far west as Pasadena, California in 2007 placing 14th. Spirit continued to be competitive and tour as a member of DCI’s Open Class through the 2011 season. At our peak, Spirit traveled coast to coast on the DCI Summer Tour amassing over 8,000 miles over 8-10 competitions against the world’s best marching ensembles during the two-month tour.
Before the beginning of the 2012 competitive season, after months of camps and rehearsals the organization was dealt a devastating setback upon the death of Executive Director Glenn Eng. The loss of Eng, led to the organization going inactive in 2012 due to finances, recruitment and morale.
In 2015 some Spirit Alumni members gathered together to discuss the status and revival of the corps. Understanding that the former organization had been dealt such a devastating blow, it was clear that all operations would have to be rebuilt from the ground up.
With a new parent organization and board of directors, Spirit Performing Arts, Inc. was formed to revive and support the rebirth of Spirit. Today the corps has been renamed to simply Spirit Drum & Bugle Corps, under the same principles and beliefs which it was founded upon in 1991. Spirit is the last of the inner-city Drum Corps organizations in the NY/NJ Metropolitan area and one of the only in the United States.
Our “Commitment to Excellence” is what allows our students to “Catch the Spirit” and become “Newark’s Musical Ambassadors”.
This is Who We Are… We Are Spirit!