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A Brief Drum Corp History

In 1946 the former traffic court located at 495 Gates Ave. in Brooklyn, N.Y. was transformed into a community recreational center “Wynn Center” under the operation of the N.Y.C. Police Athletic League. Mr. Sidney E. Austin, a young man fresh from the military, got busy teaching local youth the art of recreational teamwork, discipline and self-esteem. Due to his military training, Mr. Austin got the brilliant idea to use military techniques to instill motivation and discipline in the local youth. He taught them marching techniques that captured their imagination and interest. From that experience was born a group known as the “Silver Buckles”. The Silver Buckles were the forerunners to the “Wynn Center Toppers”. With the advent of bugles and drums, the organization became a full-fledged Drum & Bugle Corps and began to enter competitions against other units in the city. The year was 1953; they won every stand still competition that they entered. In 1959 the Toppers won the New York State championship. Then in 1968, 69 and 1970 they won the Long Island Drum Corps Circuit championship. The Wynn Center Toppers disbanded in 1972.

In June 1991 former members of the Wynn Center Toppers Drum & Bugle Corps got together after over twenty years to revitalize the Brooklyn Day Parade. This was billed as the “Ultimate Reunion”. The Toppers performed as a parade and exhibition Drum & Bugle Corps for the next 21 years in and outside of the NYC area. They performed regularly in the African American Day Parade in Harlem and the Brooklyn Day Parade in Brooklyn.

In 2012 the Toppers became inactive as a parade Drum & Bugle Corps. Instead the remaining dedicated members formed a Brass Ensemble, performing in community based and Drum & Bugle Corps related activities. The spirit of late Mr. Sidney E. Austin and co-founder Mr. Joseph Tucker continue on to this day through the work of the Wynn Center Toppers, Inc., whose activities are inspired by their teachings.

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