The nationally acclaimed Lighthouse Brigade of Racine was founded in 1980 by Doug Johnson and the Racine Unified School District. The Racine Band Boosters, a volunteer parent organization, was founded a year later and continues to provide financial and organizational support to the Lighthouse Brigade programs. A feeder program, the Junior Lighthouse Brigade, was founded in 1986 and serves middle school students. The Lighthouse Brigade was originally formed to provide half-time field shows for fall football games at the three Racine Unified School District high schools. The Brigade quickly outgrew this role and joined a summer marching band circuit – the Mid-America Competing Band Director's Association (MACBDA) where it continues to perform and compete to this day.
The uniform of the Lighthouse Brigade has changed many times since 1980. During the first few years of marching, the Brigade wore old dark green uniforms that were formerly used at Case High School. Shortly after, the uniform was altered to a powder blue top with white and silver accents. In 1996, the uniform was changed entirely to white helmets and plumes, royal blue tops, and white pants with gold accents. In 2001, the uniform proper remained royal blue, but with black and silver accents, black helmets, plumes and pants. 2015 marked another major change with a spectacular new "look" by world renowned uniform designer, Michael Cesario that respects all of the Lighthouse Brigades of the past while giving the group a fresh, strong, military and contemporary style and appearance.
For the first twenty years, the Lighthouse Brigade would perform for organizations and venues such as the Green Bay Packers; the Major League Baseball All-Star Game; the Racine Raiders; Six Flags Great America; the Milwaukee Summer Musical Festival; Disney Magic Music Days and the Milwaukee Circus Parade. The Brigade also travelled to Regina Saskatchewan, Canada; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Salt Lake City, Utah; Orlando, Florida; Traverse City, Michigan; and Boston, Massachusetts. A number of memorable shows were brought to the field during the first twenty years including, "Victory At Sea", "Evita", "A Tribute to Aaron Copland" and "Carmina Burana".
In 2000, Rex Rukavina (a former Junior Brigade director and long-time Senior Brigade visual designer, music and marching instructor) became only the second director for the Lighthouse Brigade – and he continues in this role today. The Racine Band Boosters became instrumental in the next few years in acquiring quality horns purchased through the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps and the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps with only one season of use on them. Major purchases of marimbas, vibraphones, timpani and other various percussion instruments as well as multiple sets of battery percussion continued for the next few years and through current seasons. The Brigade equipment truck was also overhauled and repainted with the new Brigade logo and remains the envy of the MACBDA circuit.
The second "era" of the Lighthouse Brigade, with outstanding member talent and world class instructional staff members, produced some of the most crowd pleasing and innovative shows in MACBDA history. The Brigade has won numerous caption awards for music execution, visual execution, percussion and color guard. The Brigade made a number of trips to Orlando, Florida to perform in the Disney Magic Music Days and major tours to Canada in 2003, 2007 and 2011 where they were chosen for the MACBDA "Founder's Award" – given to the group that best represents their city while maintaining a quality youth program for their marching members. The Brigade also continues to travel to Traverse City, MI for the National Cherry Festival. In 2006 the Brigade won its first MACBDA championship – tying for first place with Oregon High School (now the Shadow Drum and Bugle Corps). In 2017, the Lighthouse Brigade took its second MACBDA championship title with the show entitled, "Puppet Master" while also taking the music execution, music general effect, visual execution, visual general effect and percussion captions.
Many former members have used the Brigade as a springboard to the next level of the marching arts – university marching bands, military service bands and drum corps, professional performing groups and Drum Corps International. The Lighthouse Brigade is proud to have had former members go on to march and perform with: The Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps; The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps; The Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps; The Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps; The Colts Drum and Bugle Corps; Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps, The Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps; Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps; The United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps; The United States Navy Band; The United States Merchant Marine Marching Band; The University of Wisconsin Marching Band; The Milwaukee Bucks Drum Line and The Green Bay Packers Tundra Drum Line.
Director - Rex Rukavina
President - Mike Weisbrod
Vice President - Jamie Peters
Co-Treasurer - Jeff Piper
Co-Treasurer - Cathy Sorensen
Secretary - Cyndi Nielsen
Senior Brigade is a member of MACBDA and competes every summer in a field show. We also perform in many parades and other events.
Junior Brigade performs in a wide variety of parades in the region and provides a great starting point for budding musicians, regardless of instrument - we have a place for you!
Boosters provide support for our musicians and color guard members. Parents that get involved in Brigade yield many of the same benefits - opportunities to make lasting friendships and make an impact on youth.