Maureen McLoone, drum major during the glory years of the Royaleers, last marched down Kings Highway in 1968.

But she'll lead the formation once again Monday as former members of Haddonfield's pioneering all-girl drum and bugle corps, many of them grandmothers now, reassemble for the borough's Memorial Day parade.

From 1954 until 1977, the Royaleers - originally called the Christ the King Cadets, later the Royaleer Mounties - were a parade fixture in the borough and beyond.

The 100-strong, precision-drilled, spit-and-polish group took home regional and national trophies and exemplified the community's patriotism and pride.

Nevertheless, "I truly believed Haddonfield had forgotten about us," says McLoone, 68.

Not quite, as a nostalgic photo posted three months ago on the Haddonfield United Facebook page demonstrated.

More about that in a moment. First, a bit about the post-World War II era, when suburbs surged and military-style drum and bugle corps proliferated.

Many of these groups were sponsored by Catholic schools such as Christ the King and later by veterans organizations such as the American Legion and the VFW.

With straightforward repertoires and flag-bearing color guards, the corps provided a creative and competitive outlet for even unmusical baby-boom kids and gave their families affordable, uplifting entertainment.

Over the group's 23-year lifetime, about 500 girls marched with the Royaleers, Mounties, or both.

"There were drum and bugle corps in every town along the Black Horse Pike," says Edwina "Rusty" Kwoka, 53, of Bellmawr, as she and other alums gather at McLoone's Merchantville home.

Royaleer and Mounties memorabilia - photos, parade programs, scrapbooks thick with newspaper clippings - is spread across the table.

Displayed on a dress form in the corner, McLoone's cream-colored drum major's uniform is a reminder of the grace and glamour of their girlhood pastime.

"I joined at 12 after begging and begging my parents for two years," says Pat Thompson, 63, a pharmacist who grew up in Collingswood and lives in Hatfield, Montgomery County.

"We were rock stars," Kwoka, a corporate recruiter, says.

"We still are!" quips Bellmawr resident Terri Brennan, 56, who says the corps was all about friendship, working together, and "discipline."

During the summer, the girls practiced - at the Cherry Hill Mall parking lot and elsewhere - for several hours. On weekends, they boarded buses and headed off to competitions.

Needless to say, smoking and drinking were forbidden. Boots had to be immaculate, and uniforms had to be pristine and heaven help the Royaleer who fraternized with a boy, or worse, a competitor - such as a member of the archrival Audubon Bon-Bons - while in full regalia.

"On the field, we were fierce competitors," Kwoka notes. "But off the field, we are friends forever."

Hence the interest generated after Brian Kelly, curator of the Haddonfield United website, posted a vintage newspaper photo of the Royaleers marching in downtown Reading.

"They were such a big part of the community," says Kelly, 61, who connected Kwoka and other members of the group with Haddonfield officials.

"We're glad to have them," says parade director Tom Baird, the past commander of American Legion Post 38, the parade's longtime sponsor. "They'll make it more exciting."

Also in the parade will be Bill Hansen, the corps' original bus driver and director. He's 99 and lives in Haddon Township.

"I was overwhelmed when Maureen called me," says Hansen, noting wryly that "if they have a car, I'll be riding in it. My marching days are over."

The Royaleer Mounties stopped marching in 1977, after noise complaints from a resident living near their outdoor practice area at Christ the King.

The culture was changing, and many small-town drum corps were being absorbed or eclipsed by professionalized and commercial organizations.

Today, regional corps such as Jersey Surf are thriving, and the art form has inspired pop-culture stars such as David Byrne and Beyoncé.

And the bonds among those who marched during the group's heyday endure on Facebook pages and informal reunions.

Come Monday, about 40 women, some well into their 70s, are expected to gather for Haddonfield's parade. It steps off at 10 a.m. at Kings Highway and Chestnut Street.

Former Royaleers and Mounties from as far away as Texas, Georgia, and Florida will join members from South Jersey. Some plan to wear armbands in memory of fathers and others who have served in the military.

And they will march to a CD of one of the group's classic 1960s performances.

"If you've been in drum corps, just that drumbeat is something that stirs you," McLoone says.

To be in formation again on Kings Highway, she adds, "brings us full circle."

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