Ben and I had a very exciting and memorable trip to Washington DC for the Inaugural Parade. It was definitely an event that we will both remember for the rest of our lives.
We got up at 1:00 am, leaving the hotel at 2:00 am for a 2 1/2 hour bus ride to the Pentagon in Washington DC. At 5:00 am, the chaperones were kicked off the bus as only the band and two directors could go through security.
The band went through security at the Pentagon. After security, they waited at the Pentagon to go to the staging area at the White House. While waiting, 15 members of the band appeared on the Today show.
Today Show link
From there, the band was bused to warming tents on the White House lawn where they were able to see the inauguration ceremonies. After the swearing-in, the band had to walk up Constitution Avenue to the Capitol, where the parade begins. Unfortunately, it was a very cold day (mid-20s)and the wind starting picking up. Our California-raised band was quite cold, especially when the parade was delayed due to the luncheon taking longer than expected. The band had to stand around in the freezing weather for two hours waiting for the parade to begin.
The chaperones (including me) made our way to the parade route by riding an extremely crowded Metro (subway) train. I had to jam my way through the doors into the train and then could barely stand on two feet it was so crowded. But after a 2 1/2 hour wait to get through a security checkpoint, we finally found ourselves on Pennsylvania Avenue.
We were also waiting in the freezing cold but at least we had heavy winter clothes on, which the marching band did not. Finally, more than an hour late, the parade started. Obama was in his limo when he went past us and it was a total mob scene, so I didn't get look at him. But then 98% of the crowd left when Obama went by, so I did get a good view of Joe Biden.
After more delays, the Redwood Marching band came down Pennsylvania Avenue with the Capitol in the background.
Shortly afterwards, the band marched past President Obama's viewing stand. Ben was on the side of the reviewing stand, so he got a great look at the President and his family. Ben said he was eight feet from the stand and that President Obama looks more realistic in real-life than he does on TV!
And they looked great on TV!
The Redwood Middle School Marching band were simply amazing. They were the only middle school in the parade and the only band from California. They had to wait over 2 hours in the freezing cold, with just their uniforms and some thermal underwear. They marched in the first division of the parade with high school, college, and military bands. 15-20 members of those bands dropped out of the parade. But for the Redwood Middle School Marching Band, composed of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, every member of the band started the parade and every member finished the parade! We couldn't be more proud of them. Ben said that yes, it was very cold, he couldn't feel his fingers and his trombone slide froze twice. But it was all worth it since he was only eight feet from the President.
Here's a compilation of news reports on the band. At about the 1:02 mark in the video, you can see Ben with his trombone at the Christmas concert (second trombone player from the left).