The Spirit of Newark came into being in 1991, when then-Newark West Ward Councilman Ronald L. Rice felt a need to revive the drum and bugle corps tradition in the City of Newark. Councilman Rice devised the idea of creating a drum corps with 100 members, to be named the "City of Newark Marching 100."
The corps held its first rehearsal in September, 1991, under the directorship of Jack Drury; more than 200 prospective members were on hand. The first public performance was in the Newark St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March, 1992. That summer, the Marching 100 competed in shows in the Garden State Circuit, winning the Novice Division Championship. In 1993 they took second in Division III, and by 1994 had moved up to fourth in Division II.
In 1995, when horn instructor Herbie Wright passed away, the corps changed its name to Spirit of Newark in his honor. That year, they took second in Division I in the Garden State Circuit, and in 1996-1998 placed third in Division II competition. In 2000 the corps competed in DCI for the first time ever, placing 26th. In 2003, the 42-member corps placed 32nd in DCI Division II/III Prelims, a position they bettered in 2004 to 17th in Division III Prelims. Their show was called 'Urban Soundz.'
The Spirit of Newark implemented an exchange program with the Field Band Foundation of South Africa in July of 2000. The program gave Field Band Foundation members a first-hand look at the exciting world of drum and bugle corps in the United States, and provided both organizations a chance to experience the rich cultures of their respective countries.
Under the slogans “Catch the Spirit!,“ “Commitment to Excellence,“ and “Newark’s Musical Ambassadors,” the 2001 corps director was Glenn Eng. Spirit’s current programs, in addition to the drum corps, encompass a parade corps and an after-school program with the Newark Boys Chorus School, as well as indoor percussion and color guard in the fall. It operates under a major sponsorship from the City of Newark, in addition to contributions of other organizations and individuals.