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St. Louis Organization to March in Inaugural Parade

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Washington, DC - January 20, 2009 -- United States President Barack Obama first lady Michelle Obama walk in the Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 20, 2009.
Credit: Ron Sachs - Pool via CNP

Washington, DC – January 20, 2009 — United States President Barack Obama first lady Michelle Obama walk in the Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 20, 2009.
Credit: Ron Sachs – Pool via CNP

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WASHINGTON (KMOX) – A St. Louis organization is among those who will march in the 57th inaugural parade. The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Tuesday the first list of groups among the 2800 who applied to take part. See full list HERE

The Lesbian and Gay Band Association will march in the parade after President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are sworn in Monday January 21st.

Organizations that wanted to take part submitted online applications to the Joint Task Force National Capital Region (JTF-NCR). The Task Force says the number who submitted applications is more than double the over 1,380 organizations that applied to take part in President Obama’s first inauguration.

Applications were reviewed by the Presidential Inaugural Committee with the assistance of the JTF-NCR, including members of several of the military bands, who used their expertise to help assess the presentation skill of marching bands, musical acts and drill teams.

“The talented groups chosen to participate in the Inaugural Parade reflect the spirit, values, and diversity of our great nation, said President Obama.  Vice President Biden and I are honored to have them join us in the parade.

All participants are responsible for paying their own lodging and transportation to and from Washington, D.C. The PIC has been working closely with area governments and civic organizations to facilitate access to affordable accommodations.

The Inaugural Parade in History

The origin of the Inauguration Day parade dates back to George Washington’s inauguration in 1789. On his way from Mount Vernon to the inaugural event in New York City, Washington was accompanied by local militias on the way to Federal Hall where the first inauguration was held.

When the ceremony moved to the newly established capital city of Washington, Thomas Jefferson charted the modern day parade route in 1805 when he rode on horseback from the Capitol to the White House after being sworn in for his second term. What began as a spontaneous processional behind Jefferson of local workers and a Marine band has evolved into an inaugural tradition stretching down Pennsylvania Avenue every four years. Since Jefferson, nearly every Presidential inauguration has featured a parade. In 1985, freezing temperatures led organizers to cancel Ronald Reagan’s inaugural parade and most public festivities.

James Madison’s inauguration in 1809 was the first year the parade was formally part of the inaugural occasion. The earliest inaugural parades served as military escorts for incoming Presidents to the swearing in ceremony and soon expanded to include floats by Martin Van Buren’s inauguration in 1837, and grew to include thousands of participants. At Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 inaugural parade African-Americans participated for the first time, and Lincoln famously shook hands with 6,000 people as he was sworn in for his second term. As crowds grew even larger for the inaugural event, President Ulysses S. Grant set a precedent by constructing a reviewing stand at the White House where he watched the processional in 1873.

Since then, instead of serving as a procession to the Capitol, the parade has followed Jefferson’s course from the swearing in ceremony to the White House. In 1909 Helen Herron Taft accompanied her husband President William Howard Taft in the parade, and women were first participants in the parade as part of Woodrow Wilson’s second inauguration in 1917.

In recent years, the parade has averaged two hours in length. The record for the longest and largest parade is held by President Dwight Eisenhower, whose inaugural parade lasted four and a half hours and included 73 bands and 59 floats, some of which featured artistic depictions of events in Eisenhower’s life. President Warren Harding was the first President to proceed down Pennsylvania Avenue in a car in 1921, and Jimmy Carter modified the tradition by walking from the Capitol to the White House.

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