The Mello-Dears, found in 1960, was an all-girl marching and maneuvering corps based in Owego, New York. This enthusiastic outfit couldn’t wait for their instruments to start performing. They hummed and sang their way through their first parade, smartly attired in black slacks and white shirts.
The corps, nicknamed “The Sweethearts of the Southern Tier,” appeared primarily in the northeastern United States, and traveled twice to Canada. One of their proudest moments was being presented a Canadian flag by the mayor of Perth, Ontario, in 1965.
In 1966 the corps, by now armed with instruments, went undefeated in 19 consecutive parades, and became champions of the first International All-Girl Contest. Honors continued in 1967 when the Mello-Dears took the titles of Sixth District American Legion Champions and VFW New York State Champions. The VFW championship was successfully defended in 1968. That year the corps also gained increased status among all-girl corps at the VFW National Competition held in Detroit .
By 1969 the corps ranks were filled by 85 girls who, they calculate, put in a combined 19,000 hours of rehearsal and competition. Their repertoire that year included
"Maggie Flynn," "I Walk with God," “If My Friends Could See Me Now," "West Side Story," "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," and "Manhattan Towers" as the finale fanfare.
In August 1970, the Mello-Dears captured second place at U.S. Open National Championship in the All-Girl Division, as well as fourth place in the Class A All-Girl World Open Championships. And in 1972 the group captured the World Open All-Girl Championships.
In DCI competition, the Mello-Dears participated from 1974 through 1983. Their highest finish was fifth in the All-Girl division in 1979.
The corps disbanded after the 1983 season.
[Colleen Marshall; Susan Thompson; email@example.com, RAMD, 8/31/97]