May 18, 2022 By Christian Murray
The Sunnyside Drum Corps., which has been in existence since 1977, is looking for kids to participate in its program.
The drum corps, which has been operating its free program out of All Saints Church on 46th Street for 44 years, meets every Saturday between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. There are currently 26 children, who are between the ages of nine to 19, signed up for the program—although there is room for as many as 100 kids.
The organization has been run by Tony Lana since its founding. Lana, who was raised in Woodside and now lives in Garden City, started the program after residents—such as the late Joe Sabba of the Woodside Herald—called for the formation of a Sunnyside marching band to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial.
Lana said that they were unable to get the band together for the nation’s 200th birthday, but funds were raised at the time to get the program going soon after.
Lana, who plays eight instruments, said that he was approached by Sabba to lead the program, since he was a known musician and was a local business owner of an ice cream store on Greenpoint avenue at the time. “They said, ‘You must know all the kids—you own an ice cream store,’” Lana said.
The drum corps made its debut at the 1977 Flag Day Parade, an annual event that is sponsored by the Sunnyside Kiwanis Club. The band performs at the parade each year—as well as at various parades around the city.
Lana said the program, however, was suspended for two years due to covid and the closing of All Saints Church.
However, church leaders have since allowed the drum corps to use the basement on weekends for classes.
Lana, who has put 1,300 children through the Sunnyside Drum Corps program, has a long history of community service in the neighborhood. He has served as president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, president of the 108 NYPD Community Council and was a former president of the Sunnyside Kiwanis Club
However, Lana is known best for his four decades of service with the Drum Corps. He said that the program has lasted so long since it appeals to parents due to its simplicity.
“To train a child to play, say, the trumpet takes a while. But I can hand a 10-year-old boy or girl a drum or cymbals and within a month they are ready to go, and they can play their hearts out.”
Learn more about the Sunnyside Drum Corps and fill out the form to join here.