- The Washington Times - Monday, January 19, 2009

Charlie Brotman, “the president’s announcer,” will watch the inaugural festivities from the same vantage point he’s enjoyed for the past 52 years - atop the press box overlooking the parade.

The native Washingtonian got his first shot announcing for the president of the United States at the opening day for the Washington Senators in 1956 when he introduced Dwight D. Eisenhower to throw out the first pitch.

Since that call, Mr. Brotman has served as the president’s announcer for every inaugural parade since 1957, a time frame spanning nine presidents and 13 inaugural parades.

The streak will continue to 10 presidents and 14 parades on Tuesday, as Mr. Brotman has again been given the announcing job.

“Every four years, I try my best to find out who is in charge to offer my help,” Mr. Brotman said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican or an independent. It’s just now that I have some experience they would ask for my help in organizing it.”

Mr. Brotman thinks this inaugural parade could become one of the best.

“Instead of being of a mind of ‘been there, done that,’ it really is a big deal and my adrenaline is sky-high and I’m looking forward to it more than any other president,” Mr. Brotman said.

“We have a new leader with new ideas and new enthusiasm, and I’m excited about him bringing America together.”

Another thing that Mr. Brotman thinks will make the parade stand out is the extensive planning the Presidential Inaugural Committee is putting into the events.

Committee spokesman Kevin Griffis said the committee was very glad to have Mr. Brotman joining their efforts.

“I think it’s fair to say that he is an institution and we’re excited to have him working with us,” Mr. Griffis said.

“Obviously, he’s been an integral player for so many years now, and he’s seen so much history from inaugurals in the past, so we invited him to lend his skills again.”

Back in 1956, Mr. Brotman said, “It was so exciting for me; I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my wife about it.”

“Sada, you will not believe what happened to me. The players couldn’t do anything until I introduced them. The president of the United States couldn’t even throw out the first pitch until I introduced him.”

His excitement was short-lived as his wife asked him to take out the trash before she heard any more about his day.

“I haven’t felt important since,” Mr. Brotman joked.

Mr. Brotman was not the only one impressed with the way he handled the announcement of the president that day. Later that year, he received a call from the White House asking him to be the announcer for the president’s second inaugural parade.

Mr. Brotman has noticed that the inaugural parades are an extension of the president’s personality. Presidents Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have been fairly basic and to the point, whereas John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton have been more elaborate.

There have been times when Mr. Brotman’s sports background has surfaced in the inaugural parades. He has organized the crowd into doing the wave while waiting for the president to finish his luncheon.

“I feel responsible to inform and entertain and help people have fun,” Mr. Brotman said. “I counted ‘one, two, three, lets go!’ and they started the wave just like at a ballpark.”

Mr. Brotman’s ties to the White House don’t end Tuesday though. He feels some of his most rewarding work has come from announcing the annual T-ball games on the South Lawn of the White House.

“President [George W.] Bush invited me to be the play-by-play announcer at the White House for the kids,” Mr. Brotman said. “So that is fun, and it is a reward for me.”

Another reward or recognition Mr. Brotman received for his work was his own “Charlie Brotman Day” on his 80th birthday. The day was officially declared by D.C. Council member Jack Evans.

Mr. Brotman still serves as the founder, chief executive and chairman of the board for his public relations firm Brotman Winter Fried Communications. Despite his age, he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

“I keep getting questions: ‘When are you going to retire? You’re 80 years old,’” Mr. Brotman said. “I find that the hardest thing for me to do is nothing. And so doing things like PR and publicity of sports and teams and attending things is something that I thoroughly enjoy and it keeps me active. So I’m going to do it as long as I am around.”

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