Kieran Maher performs with national drum corps Boston Crusaders

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Kieran Maher, center, with new friends Danielle Kroetz, Indianapolis, and Raf Faria, Orlando, prepared to practice their color guard routines at Maher's alma mater.

Last year the Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps was in town twice to sleep and rehearse during their intensive summer tour. This year they are back, with a Greencastle girl among the performers.

Kieran Maher, 18, saw the group take Kaley Field last summer. She was already heavily involved in the Greencastle-Antrim High School indoor and outdoor color guard and competed with the Reading Buccaneers Drum and Bugle Corps. She was later selected for the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band, which performed at its bowl game in San Antonio in January.

So it was no surprise Maher decided to audition for the 2015 Boston Crusaders. She passed the first round at Boston University and went to Winter Park, Florida in April for the second audition. Her years of experience met the judges' approval, and she earned a spot on the squad.

Maher was in Massachusetts by May 16, and the 150 young adults and instructors eventually continued on to Vermont. Performances began in June to demonstrate what they had learned from long days of choreography training.

But Maher needed to take a short break from the schedule. She had to graduate from G-AHS on June 13. Her parents, Amy and Mickey Maher, drove to New England.

“We left at 1 p.m. Friday and got home at 1 a.m. Saturday,” said Maher.

She slept, and arrived at the athletic field just in time to join her classmates for commencement exercises. After the day to revel in her accomplishment, her brother Colin and his girlfriend drove all night taking her back to Vermont. Within the week, she was back in Greencastle.

The Crusaders used the school facilities as a stopping point once again. The four buses, two equipment trucks, mobile kitchen and support vehicles arrived at 7:30 a.m. Friday, June 19. The brass players, percussionists and color guard members slept for a few hours, ate lunch, and headed to the field for rehearsal.

Maher said the days were busy and they had begun public appearances, though the show was not yet complete.

“This week we did the show of what we had, and Wednesday we debuted our color guard uniform,” she said.

The crew had few minutes to spare in their regimented day. Maher was able to share her perceptions of her first month on the road.

“It's been great, a life experience. It teaches you how to live on your own and be responsible for things you didn't have to do before.”

She said she had chores growing up, but one in particular had been handled by her mom.

“I've never truly done laundry before,” she admitted. “Now I'm learning how to do it and not ruin my clothes.”

The daily schedules were regimented, and the calendar was packed with events across the eastern half of the United States. The Crusaders expected to travel 10,000 miles, giving 40 performances. The season wrapped Aug. 9 at the DCI World Championship Finals in Indianapolis.

The group will be back in Greencastle on July 28 enroute to Indiana.

The demanding tour, with peers ages 16 to 21 from all across America and even the world, was worth it to Maher.

“It's hard work, but very rewarding,” she said. “It's the best feeling ever.”