The band’s first public performance was on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, 1940, when the 32-member group participating in a baptism parade from the lodge’s quarters on River Street to St. Rita’s Church in the Mount Washington neighborhood. (St. Rita’s has since closed in a merger of Catholic churches that resulted in the creation of All Saints Parish.)
During the spring of 1941, as the nation’s draft quotas increased along with the threat of American involvement in World War II, the Drum and Bugle Corps held its last banquet before disbanding. Several members served in the armed forces and worked at defense plants during the war. On Aug. 15, 1945, lodge members removed the drums and bugles from storage and marched, in civilian clothes, in the Haverhill Victory Parade, celebrating the end of World War II.
The band threw a 75th anniversary celebration on April 12 at the lodge that featured a pasta and meatball dinner cooked by Tony Santoro (soprano horn) and Frank Quintiliani (cymbals).
“Former band members who’d marched years ago talked about the old days, such as when they performed at a birthday party for Rocky Marciano at a function hall in the Boston area,” Gaiero said. “The band also performed for former president Richard Nixon at an event in the Boston area.”
For Gaiero, the proudest moment was in January of 1999, when the Drum and Bugle Corps was selected with two other bands to perform at the Statehouse for the inauguration of Gov. Paul Cellucci.
“They treated us to lunch at the Oyster House and at night we performed at the governor’s ball,” Gaiero said. “To me that was the most exciting time we’ve ever had.”
Band members practice on Mondays in the lower level of the lodge. The group specializes in patriotic and military songs, such as “God Bless America” and “Yankee Doodle,” as well as “The Sons of Italy March,” a military style piece that drum major Stephen Iannalfo conducts while passing by parade reviewing stands.