- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2008


The Presidential Inaugural Committee extended offers Monday to the first wave of groups that will march in the 56th Inaugural Parade, with the first ones going to three organizations each in Virginia and Ohio.

President-elect Barack Obama won both states in the presidential election.

The six are among 1,382 organizations nationwide that applied to participate in the Jan. 20 event, “setting a new standard for interest in marching in the parade,” the inaugural committee said in a statement.

In Virginia, the offers were extended to the T.C. Williams High School Army JROTC in Alexandria, the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets and the Hampton University Marching Force, the committee said.

VMI, in Lexington, is the nation’s oldest state-supported military college, and Hampton is a historically black university in the southeastern Virginia city of Hampton.

In Ohio, the groups included the Southern Ohio Ladies Aside, a sidesaddle-mounted drill team; the Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipes and Drums; and the Ohio State University Marching Band, the committee said.

Members of the military and civilian groups parade down Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest after the president is sworn in on the steps of the Capitol.

Virginia and Ohio were two of several hard-fought battleground states during the presidential campaign. Mr. Obama won both over Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

“I am honored to invite these talented groups and individuals to participate in the Inaugural Parade,” Mr. Obama said in the statement. “These organizations embody the best of our nation’s history, diversity and commitment to service. Vice President-elect [Joseph R.] Biden and I are proud to have them join us in the parade.”

To be part of the historic parade, organizations submitted applications to the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, which then were reviewed by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the statement said. Experienced military musicians help the panel assess the skills of marching bands, musical acts and drill teams, the statement said.

All participants pay their own transportation to and from Washington and their lodging expenses.

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