Double ‘R’ Twirlettes Look Back At Milestone

May 8, 2019

Cheers to 70 years.

The Double “R” Twirlettes baton twirling group will commemorate its platinum anniversary with a recital, “Celebrating 70 Years,” on Saturday, May 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Mid Valley Secondary Center, 52 Underwood Road, Throop. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased from a member of the group, by calling 570-489-1935 or by visiting doublertwirl.com.

The group began in 1949 when the late Helen and Roman Pilch organized it as part of the Dickson City American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps. They named the group Double “R” Twirlettes after their daughters, Rosemary and Rita, who taught twirling classes when they were old enough. Even after the drum and bugle corps disbanded, the Pilches continued the twirling group, with their daughter, Rosemary Yankovich, taking over as director. It remains a family-run organization to this day, with Yankovich’s daughter, Kathleen Y. Mercatili, as director.

“It’s been an amazing ride,” Mercatili said. “You don’t realize the impact until you hear stories from former members and their families. We’re all really looking forward to celebrating such a special occasion.”

The show will detail the group’s entire history, beginning with a 10-minute video package of photos through the years. It then will open with a routine set to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” a nod to its drum and bugle corps start. There also will be routines dedicated to the group’s travels, Mercatili said. Double “R” Twirlettes have performed all over the United States and beyond, including in London, Paris and Russia, and on cruises to Bermuda, the Bahamas and Canada. Routines set to songs such as “Hot, Hot, Hot” will symbolize these milestones, including the group’s upcoming performance on a Caribbean cruise this June.

“Lean on Me” will pay homage to Double “R” Twirlettes charitable events and donations over the years. The group is rooted in giving back, Mercatili said, and has donated more than $150,000 to local charities, including St. Joseph’s Center, for which the group hosts a twirl-a-thon each year. Mercatili also takes the high school students to help with Friends of the Poor’s Thanksgiving dinner each year.

“My mom really wanted her students to give back to the community,” she said. “It’s a very big deal for us. It’s more than just twirling baton.”

In addition to the nearly 100 total students in the show, 30 alumni will return to perform. A routine set to the Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There for You” — aka the theme song from “Friends” — will mark all the bonds made among group members over the years, Mercatili said.

Both Pilch daughters, Yankovich and Rita Flannery, will attend, as will original group member Gerri Klodzinski Nichols, which Mercatili and the rest of the group are thrilled about. The entire evening is special for not only twirlers past and present but also the family that started it all. It’s an honor to celebrate this milestone, Mercatili said.

“Not many businesses are around for 70 years, and to have everyone there together is so exciting,” she said, adding that it is amazing to see her own daughter, Kali, 6, perform with the group. “I think my grandparents would be very proud that the group is still going strong.”

Contact the writer: gmazur@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT on Twitter

If you go

What: Double “R” Twirlettes present “Celebrating 70 Years”

When: Saturday, May 11, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Mid Valley Secondary Center, 52 Underwood Road, Throop

Details: Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased from a member of the group, by calling 570-489-1935 or by visiting doublertwirl.com.