Margaret “Peggy” Twiggs, whose namesake flag spinning technique revolutionized color guards across the marching music activity, died Sunday, July 7 in the Boston area. She was 72.

Multiple friends and colleagues reported her passing online, a result of a more than decade-long battle with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a neurodegenerative disease. 

Inducted into the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame in 2005, it was Twiggs’ impact on the world of color guard in the 1970s that was so profound. She was, in a word, revolutionary.

"I can think of nobody who has had a more direct effect on the technical training, accuracy and precision of modern color guard than Peggy," DCI Hall of Fame member Michael Cesario wrote in a letter nominating Twiggs for the DCI Hall of Fame. "She singularly bridged the gap between old and new drum corps styles, creating champions by emphasizing achievement and personal growth."

Peggy Twiggs with the 27th Lancers during the corps' performance at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.


Growing up in Revere, Massachusetts, Twiggs started her drum corps career in 1967 marching with the Immaculate Conception Reveries, which became the 27th Lancers, an eastern powerhouse. Progressing from performer to instructional staff member, it was here that Twiggs became close with Denise Bonfiglio, another future DCI Hall of Fame member whose family lived just down the street. Bonfiglio says that Twiggs started out as a rifle twirler, but her love soon turned to flag.

“Back in the day, everyone wanted to spin a rifle, and very few wanted to learn how to spin a flag, but Peggy was determined to change that,” Bonfiglio said. “We challenged each other as instructors; Peggy on flag, I was on rifle. We had contests to see who could perfect technique on rifle and flag. Peggy started on spins, I started on tosses. We worked for years at it.”

It was in these friendly impromptu sessions that Bonfiglio says the “Peggy Spin” was born.

In a period when color guard flag maneuvers were often stilted and militaristic, generally with the flagpole carried in a harness, the Peggy Spin brought the pole out in front of the performer’s body. Alternating hands at waist height, a series of half and full spins gives the flag an impressive look especially when perfected in unison by a drum corps’ entire color guard section.  

“It was unique, it builds strength, and teaches eye/hand coordination,” Bonfiglio said of the technique. “In the guard world, we love to give names to different moves. Peggy named her spin, simply, ‘The Peggy Spin’”

She added that Twiggs taught her new spin to everyone. When her students eventually became teachers, it continued to spread exponentially.

“Today you can walk around any drum corps or winter guard competition and see the Peggy Spin being used as a warm up,” Bonfiglio explained. “If Peggy ever patented her Peggy Spin, she would be a multimillionaire! It’s used around the world.”

In the early years of the 27th Laners, Twiggs started developing “routines” for the flags. Instructors asked her to create a “trick flag” line, and she led this small group of color guard performers in learning all kinds of spins and tosses. Adding a new level of technicality to the marching music activity, those “2-7” guards revolutionized drum corps and became legendary.

“As an instructor, she was a dynamic force for good,” DCI Hall of Fame percussion instructor Charley Poole remembered. “Her influence upon countless thousands of students knew no bounds. As a friend she was always there with her infectious laugh and personality. I will always consider myself blessed to have had the privilege to teach with Peggy at 27th.”

Twiggs would later help take the Garfield Cadets’ color guard up a major notch during the 1980s. She also taught numerous indoor color guards and in 1978 she became involved in the inaugural season of Winter Guard International. Among her colleagues and students, she is fondly remembered for her personable approach, truly a teacher’s teacher.

“Her strength was her ability to communicate and connect with her students,” close friend and fellow instructor Anne Fields said in a 2023 episode of the “On a Water Break Podcast” dedicated to Twiggs. “She had nicknames for everyone, and everyone in turn thought they were Peggy’s favorite. No matter how many people were in the flag line, she had a special connection with them.”

“Peggy has affected so many lives,” former Cadets color guard caption head April Gilligan wrote in a DCI Hall of Fame nomination letter for Twiggs. “She is an honorable woman who has gone beyond the call of duty for this activity and it is because of her that guard is what it is today. On a personal level, it is because of her that I am who I am today. Peggy Twiggs is my mentor and someone who will never be forgotten in my eyes.”

Peggy Twiggs visits with members of the Cadets' color guard during the 2021 DCI Tour. (


Beyond color guards, Twiggs also inspired people with the way she took on Progressive Supranuclear Palsy which she was diagnosed with some 15 years ago. PSP is a rare brain disorder that affects speech, vision and balance, making walking and speaking extremely difficult. It is similar in some respects to Parkinson’s Disease, but more progressive.

Ultimately confined to a wheelchair, Twiggs’ spirit remained strong. A Peggy Twiggs Fan Club and Go Fund Me page gave testament to the mark she left on those she touched. Even as the disease progressed, she took great joy in staying connected to the drum corps activity, sometimes visiting rehearsals of The Cadets, and regularly voting as part of the annual selection process for the DCI Hall of Fame, even the most recent cycle in the spring of 2024. 

"I've always thought the friendships were more important than the victories," Twiggs said in her induction speech for the DCI Hall of Fame. "It's the journey — and what a ride it was."