‘Belles’ memorabilia at historical complex in Rhinelander
Memorabilia from an important part of Rhinelander’s history has found a new home. The Belles of St. Mary’s Drum and Bugle Corps exhibit has been relocated from Nativity of Our Lord offices to the Pioneer Park Historical Complex.
Known as Rhinelander’s “Goodwill Ambassadors,” The Belles of St Mary’s Drum and Bugle Corps was started in 1956 by Al and Delia DiGiacomo for St. Mary’s school girls; by the end of its famed 20-year run the Belles became non-denominational. Starting with 36 members it grew into a 96-member corps traveling around the country and beyond. Many Rhinelander residents will remember the Belles’ morning and evening practices that echoed through the community. The Belles would perform in many local parades donning their memorable tartan sashes and skirts. In 1974 The Belles won the All-Girl contest at the VFW Nationals in Chicago and went on to compete in the evening competition where they took tenth place. It was the first time in VFW national competition that an All-Girl corps had placed in the finals, a highlight for the Corps.
Memorabilia including uniforms, posters, trophies, photo albums and more will be on permanent display in the Antique Fire Equipment Museum at the Pioneer Park Historical Complex. A small table and chairs have been set up for visitors to look through the many photo albums included in the display. The complex is open Tuesday through Sunday through Labor Day.