Inaugural Parade Selection Process

The bands and other performing groups that marched in the 2009 inaugural parade went through a relatively fast screening process. Here’s a look at the timeline and selections.

Oct. 28, 2008—The Armed Forces Inaugural Committee (AFIC) sets a deadline (Nov. 14) for applications to be considered for the inaugural parade. Groups are encouraged to submit photos, video and audio. Check out the Wyandotte Marching Chiefssubmission video on YouTube. Many groups also ask their local government officials to send in letters of support.

After Nov. 4, 2008 (After the Election)—The new president-elect appoints a Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) to plan, raise money for and carry out inaugural events.

Nov. 13, 2008—The AFIC extends the deadline to Nov. 18 due to the overwhelming response.

Nov 18, 2008 through early December—All of the applications are in, 1,382 in all, and the AFIC begins to sort and evaluate the materials. Professional military musicians review and rank the groups on their proficiency and compile a report for the PIC detailing the sizes, skills and stories of the different groups. The PIC decides how long they want the parade to be, and the AFIC helps calculate how many groups of what size they can fit. The AFIC chooses music groups representing each branch of the military. The PIC strives to include at least one group from every state and several groups representing the home states and alma maters of the President, Vice President and their families.

Mid-December—The selected groups are notified, giving them about six weeks to plan their trips and make arrangements. Many groups need to perform intense fundraising; some need new weather-appropriate uniforms. Many times, local state governments assist with travel and lodging, arranging for bands to stay in schools and universities in the area. Some adult groups, like the Lesbian and Gay Band Association, have their members make their own travel arrangements. Some groups rehearse intensely during this time while others wait until getting to D.C.

Days Before the Event—Groups begin the journey to D.C., usually by bus. Some have time to sightsee or participate in music festivals while other rehearse. Many groups are invited to parties thrown by their states.

Jan. 20, 2009—The big day arrives, and most groups wake up well before sunrise to get on the road. After an intense security screening at the Pentagon, they watch the swearing-in from warming tents. Then, they wait. The parade is delayed but goes off without a hitch.

Jan. 21, 2009—The bands journey home with the memory of their once-in-a-lifetime experience.

About author

Elizabeth Geli

Elizabeth Geli is the assistant editor of Halftime Magazine and a journalist/communications professional in Southern California. Her 11 years at the University of Southern California (USC) Trojan Marching Band included time as a flute player, graduate teaching assistant, and student advocate. She holds a bachelor's degree in Print Journalism and master's degree in Specialized Journalism (The Arts) from USC.

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