There are parades, and then there are parades.
And once again, some West Virginia kids are going to be part of history next Friday.
The Frankfort High School Band from Ridgeley, Mineral County, will perform in the 2017 Inaugural Parade.
But this isn’t their first time representing West Virginia at the Washington event. They also marched in the 2013 parade for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
“So to be selected to participate in two consecutive inaugural parades is really kind of surreal. Since the students who marched in 2013 have already graduated, it is really nice that we have a new group of students who are getting this experience,” said band director Roger Walker.
It will begin after President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence are sworn into office at noon by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.
“It’s exciting, it’s humbling and it’s still a little bit overwhelming but we will do our best,” he said.
Band members don’t yet know which division they’ll be in, but the roughly two-hour parade begins at the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building and proceeds along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
They will leave for the 2 ½ hour trip to the capital on Thursday, when they will also do some sightseeing and meet with U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.
Early Friday morning they will join other participants at the Pentagon for security screenings. They will then be taken to the National Mall to line up.
There will be more than 8,000 parade participants representing forty organizations including high school and university marching bands, equestrian corps, first responders, and veterans groups.
Capito was one of several officials, including Gov. Earl Ray Tomlin, Sen. Joe Manchin and West Virginia University band director Jay Drury who wrote letters of recommendation urging that the Mineral County school be accepted as a parade participant.
“It’s always been a career goal to be in an inaugural parade, so I thought I would just give it a shot. And to be selected a second time is just amazing. Many of the students who performed in the 2013 parade said it was one of their most memorable events in high school,” he said.
Walker gave the good news to the 74 band members before Christmas break after he got a telephone call from parade organizers.
“The kids were truly ecstatic,” he said.
They will be playing a piece called “Trooper Salute,” a medley which includes patriotic tunes such as Shenandoah, When Johnny Comes Marching Home and Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Everything is set, and Friday can’t come soon enough.
“There’s nothing like playing in front of the president.”