- The Color Guard performs with the Marching Band on an American football field during the Fall Season
- The Color Guard becomes the Winter Guard and performs to taped music in a gymnasium during the Spring Season
- The equipment used most often by the Color Guard and Winter Guard are flags, rifles, and sabers
- As in other sports, there are divisions and sub-categories for Color Guard and Winter Guard competition.
Divisions and sub-categories are usually noted by two characters such as SA or IO :
– First Character is either an ‘S’ or an ‘I’:
Scholastic – High School or Junior High ♦ Independent – college-bound age or above
– Second Character is either an ‘A’, ‘O’ or ‘W’
A class – Beginner ♦ Open class – Intermediate ♦ World class – Advanced
- Judging is based on how well the Guard handles their equipment, how well they move, and overall ensemble
- The Guard ‘spins’ their equipment, they DO NOT twirl
- As in any sport, there are rules, codified in the WGI WinterGuard Rulebook
- and the WGASC WinterGuard Rulebook
Important Note about Costume Cleaning
Cleaning your costume: please check with the Color Guard Caption Head or Guard Mom before attempting to clean your costume! Color Guard costumes are designed with a heavy saturation of dye that can easily run if not cleaned properly. The manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning are only general guidelines for cleaning and may not be the best method of cleaning to use on your specific costume! Please exercise extreme caution when considering the cleaning of your color guard costume!
History Excerpt from the Winter Guard of Southern California
The roots of Color Guard performance in the USA today may be found in the pageantry of the military in the days of old in Europe and North America, as they exhibited in parades and reviews, dressed in their uniforms.
Color guards in the United States were originally veterans from the wars and were in parades and memorial celebrations. They were always part of the military. As time progressed, women joined the services as nurses and aids during the war and also joined organizations that were active when the country was not at war. An example would be the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
The major organizations were the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and each community had “posts” were the veterans could join and be with other veterans in a time of peace. While being social was very important many of the American Legion and VFW posts were active in the communities helping needy families and helping the community overall. Many music organizations were sponsored by the community posts and the veterans were the people that organized the group and instructed the youth members. Most of these music organizations were drum and bugle corps.
On the east coast, besides the American legion and VFW posts the community churches also sponsored drum and bugle corps for their membership. These “corps” were instructed by the veterans who had military and marching experience. In the midwest, south and west the drum and bugle corps were community based through the American legion and VFW posts.
In conjunction with the drum & bugle corps they formed drill teams which were precision marching units and carried no instruments or equipment. This type of drill team is still very popular in Australia which has hundreds of drill teams that perform year round.
In the United States the drill teams also performed with the drum corps sometimes and that is when they carried the American Flag in a parade. There are strict rules you have to follow when marching with an American Flag and that includes guards as well as protocol to follow in case you are also marching a state flag or even flags from other countries.
In the late 1950’s early 60’s the drill teams began to carry the American Flag outside of their performance with the drum corps and in time began competing with one another in competitions. These competitions were during the summer months, on a football sized field and still had many of the precision marching routines from when they were a drill team. As time progressed they began carrying rifles to protect the American Flag and many times added other flags more than just the state flag. Many units had military themes to their organization and carried flags that were symbols of that branch of the military.