He was also a marching and maneuvering instructor for the Paterson Lamplighters (’64), Garfield Cadets (’69-’72), Toronto Optimists (’70), Salina Silver Sabers (’73), Long Island Kingsmen (’74-’77), Bayonne Bridgemen (’75), Spirit of Atlanta (’78) and New York Skyliners (’78-’80).
Hugh Mahon returned to the Cadets as a drill instructor in 1968. Two years later, he became director of the corps for a three-year period, from 1969-72. During his time as director, Hugh pushed the concept of “total theme shows” and the formation of the UOJC (United Organization of Junior Corps), which he sought to assist Eastern corps in regaining national prominence.
“Hugh envisioned the UOJC as a vehicle for eastern corps to better control their fate competitively, financially and organizationally,” Hugh’s longtime friend, John Keays, said.
Wanting more for the drum corps activity, Hugh contacted members of the Midwest Combine (which was the Midwest organization similar in scope to the UOJC) to work toward a common goal.
Dave Shaw, the first director of publicity and public relations for Drum Corps International, recounts that, despite a less-than-enthusiastic reception from both members of the Combine and his own UOJC, “Hugh persisted to the point of being such a thorn in the paw of both groups that they reluctantly and very grudgingly agreed to meet at the American Legion Rules Congress in 1971 for some ‘discussion.’ That meeting, contrary to everyone’s early intentions, resulted in the formation of Drum Corps International — a totally unanticipated development,” Shaw said.
Elected as DCI’s first co-director and serving as the DCI Eastern Coordinator, Hugh later became a charter member of both The Cadets Hall of Fame (1984) and the DCI Hall of Fame (1985), for which he was recognized for initiating a new era of drum corps. He was also one of the organizers for the Bluegrass National Championships of Lexington, KY during the early days of DCI.
Hugh passed away on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2021 in his home of Danville, Kentucky. He is survived by his loving wife, Adria; his daughters, Colleen Mahon, Erin (Gordie) Shaw, and Kathleen (Pete) Aplikowski; and his grandchildren, Sarah and Catherine LeMay, Alec (Madison) and Cameron McAfee, Adria and Flynn Calnon, and Mitchell and Ethan Aplikowski.