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Honeymooning With The Blue Devils

The car with the 10 white helium filled balloons tied on pulled into the lot where the Blue Devils were practicing. The corps, working hard in the middle of a steamy, rainy afternoon prior to a show in Murfreesboro, TN. didn't pay attention to the gray Honda with "just married" soaped onto the windows.

But when new bride Rhonda Garman, lifted her white wedding dress, showing her white sequined tennis shoes and walked over the wet grass on the arm of the groom, John Garman, in his waistcoat and tails to stand and watch, the staffers started to turn their heads.

Is it odd to come directly from a wedding reception to a drum corps practice? Or to spend your honeymoon following shows up to and including DCI championships in Buffalo next week? Probably no odder than the way the newlyweds spent their courtship; attending 25 drum corps shows a year.

John Garman, 35, a law school professor at Faulkner University was never in a band, but attended his first DCI show in 1994, in at the urging of a friend who had been in a high school band. "I was instantly hooked," Garman said. "I started going to shows all the time."

When he started dating Rhonda, 38, a lawyer from Atlanta, in 1996, the drum corps infection spread. Meeting nearly every weekend for five years wherever a top show was being on, they would sit in the stands, hold hands and fall in love.

The weekends were not just about the two of them. They made friends with other fans and corps members. In fact, Emily Niinden, recently aged-out drum major for the Colts became such a good friend of the couple that she was a bridesmaid. In a tan, taffeta dress, she joined them at the Murfreesboro practice.

The reason they picked the Blue Devils' practice on their wedding day is simple. "The Blue Devils are the best," Garman said.

The wedding, in John's hometown of Murfreesboro, where his parents still live, was scheduled to coincide with the show. That's' not the only accommodation their bemused family made to the couple's drum corps fetish. "The toast my father did at the reception was all taken from drum corps," John said. "He said 'as you step off the line as a couple,' talked about working together as ensemble. The entire thing was DCI." The groom's cake also had the DCI logo. "Our family doesn't think it's odd; they expect us to do crazy things."

Since neither are musicians, what's behind their drum corps obsession. "I don't know," Rhonda said. "It's like a drug. We just love it."

Friends, too have learned that for the Garmans, drum corps is just about at the center of their lives. "People who know us don't think it's odd. They just expect it."
2001-07-07