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At least 93 organizations from across the country accepted an invitation to march in President Barack Obama’s honor. They come from as near as Washington D.C. to as far as Alaska and Hawaii. Local organizations include Howard University’s Showtime Marching Band and Paul Lawrence Dunbar Senior High School’s Crimson Tide Marching Band, the only high school in D.C. chosen for the prestigious opportunity. Joining the festivities after traveling 5,000 miles from Barrow, Alaska is the Suurimmaanitchuat Eskimo Dance Group, known for their colorful Inupiat costumes, Eskimo drumming, and energetic singing.
The parade also features First Lady Michelle Obama’s alma mater, Whitney Young Magnet High School and their Naval Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and President Obama’s alma mater, Punahou School, and their Marching Band and Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
Almost 9,000 participants are marching to the steady beat of drums along Pennsylvania Ave. from the Capitol to the White House.
Just like the election and administration of President Barack Obama are monumental, the inauguration parade reveals a tradition of historic firsts. Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration in 1801 marked the first time the parade was held in Washington, D.C. During Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration in 1865, African Americans marched in the parade for the first time. Women first marched in the inaugural parade at Woodrow Wilson’s second inauguration.
The largest parade thus far was during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first inauguration in 1953; it lasted 4 hours and 32 minutes, had 73 bands, 59 floats, horses, elephants, and civilian and military vehicles.
Typical procedure calls for the newly sworn president and vice president to stride down Pennsylvania Avenue. leading ceremonial military regiments, citizens’ groups, marching bands, and floats. They then review the parade with their wives and special guests as it passes the reviewing stand. Jimmy Carter broke protocol in 1977 when he walked in the parade along with his wife and daughter.