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St. Rita’s Brassmen History
                    (As told to me by Carman Cluna)
                               Written by Rick Bub

      From 1964 through 1968, Brooklyn’s St. Joseph’s Patron Cadets made their mark here in the East- only to be “evicted” from the premises by the Pastor of their Parish.--Word has it that the “composition” of the corps did not reflect the membership of the Parish, aka we didn’t represent “their kids”-- But that turned out to be a blessing in disguise! Carman Cluna moved the entire St. Joseph’s corps bag and baggage, over to the St. Rita’s RC Church in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Father Dominick Schiraldi, a graduate of Mt. Carmel Cadets, had a small parade corps there: Tom Costa and Carman were the instructors. Father Schiraldi had been yearning for a competition corps and now his dream became an overnight reality. Father Schiraldi was a “ doer”. He immediately established a weekly bingo game to help support the corps. Carman called in an Evans Uniform Company representative and handed him sketches of the new corps logo and a newly designed uniform, which he ultimately reproduced flawlessly. The old instruments were stored in the basement for the use
of the trainer corps. Brand-new horns and drums All OF THIS HAPPENED WITHIN LESS THAN ONE MONTH AFTER OUR ARRIVAL!!
 

In 1969, St. Rita’s Brassmen burst upon the competitive scene with all the finesse of a buffalo at a cocktail party! To start, we beat the Muchachos-a fine corps that was rated as one of the East’s top national contenders. Two weeks later we lost to 27 Lancers at Weymouth Ma, by a few tenths of a point! --In 1971 through to the last field corps of 1973, Carman Cluna took that bull by its’ horns and led the Brassmen on the road to being the trend setters--We were a “radical” corps!! We did a normal competitive show for about 10 minutes (Those were the days of 11 ½ - 13 minutes shows). Then all hell broke loose!! --In 1973-- Prior to leaving the field (we had finish lines then) we staged THE PERILS OF PAULINE complete with buzz saw, villain and hero, and the audiences went wild! Each year the “gimmick” would change. --In 1972-- There was WEST SIDE STORY, with the knife fight -- Carman used the diverse make up of the corps to present a compelling interracial romance—--In 1971-- WOODSTOCK, with the ATTACK ON OLD GLORY, etc.--Here Carman pulled out all of the stops and added a riot scene (Corp members breaking ranks and running on the field as the riot scene progressed, immediately following the attack there was riot (tear) gas (a bright orange color) let loose onto the field, with the use of tear gas masks (wore by the defenders of the flag) Carman Cluna with masterful hand always left the audience SCREAMING for more! --In 1972 the Bishop chose to elevate Father Schiraldi to the rank of  Pastor and in so doing, he transferred our Moderator to a nonexistent parish in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn. Father Schiraldi assignment: to start a brand-new parish, FROM SCRATCH! There was no church, no school, no rectory? just a set of boundaries which defined the parameters of the parish to be. Obviously these conditions precluded any thought of the Brassmen moving to Canarsie with Father, who was torn between the challenge of his priestly assignment and his strong personal attachment to the corps. LESS THAN ONE WEEK AFTER FATHER SCHIRALDI’S DEPARTURE, TOM COSTA AND CARMAN CLUNA WERE CALLED INTO THE ST. RITA’S RECTORY BY THE PASTOR, WHO  ASKED, “WHEN IS THE CORPS LEAVING?”
 

The irony is? that the new Pastor, Pastor Varriale, was the younger brother of the Pastor who, 18 years earlier, ordered the dissolution of  the Mt. Carmel Cadets, the very corps that Carman Cluna first marched  in!