According to a local NBC News affiliate, not one D.C. public school marching band has signed up to perform in the inaugural parade this year.
NBC4 reports that “at least one D.C. public school marching band has participated in the past five inaugural parades, but none applied for consideration this year.”
Ballou High School’s Majestic Marching Knights performed Destiny’s Child’s “Lose My Breath” at George W. Bush’s second inaugural parade in 2005, and stepped along Pennsylvania Avenue as they played James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” at Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade eight years later.
But the beloved band decided to take a break in January and not apply to play in the inaugural parade after several other recent performances, the principal said.
Dunbar High School’s band marched in Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 but the school will sit this one out because they are rebuilding the band, the principal said.
Eastern High School also chose not to participate, the principal said, without elaborating.
Speaking to NBC4, a D.C. public schools spokesperson said that she was not aware of any bands that were slated to participate in the parade, which takes place on January 20.
According to Howard University band director John Newson, schools who make budgetary or procedural excuses not to participate are just saying so in order to avoid controversy.
“I think everybody knows why [they don’t want to participate] and no one wants to say and lose their job,” Newson said.
According to NBC4, an Arizona company that organizes band trips says that excitement for Trump’s inaugural parade is lower than usual.
“We didn’t get the response that we got the last time, with Obama. Some groups responded, but with some groups it was crickets,” Music Celebrations International marketing director Luke Wiscombe said.
“We’re seeing a little less enthusiasm to be a part of this event.”
Like in D.C., many school bands in the surrounding counties opted not to apply to participate in Trump’s inauguration. No bands in Arlington County or Prince George’s County public schools applied, according to district representatives. A Fairfax County schools spokesman was not aware of any schools that had applied, and a Montgomery County schools spokeswoman did not have information available.
Local universities also did not apply. University of Maryland, College Park, which played in 2013, did not apply. Neither did Bowie State University or University of the District of Columbia.
The Lesbian and Gay Band Association, which marched in President Barack Obama‘s 2013 inaugural parade, also will not participate, citing “political and safety concerns.”
“While the parade route itself should be a safe zone, we cannot hope to guarantee our safety while traveling, while rehearsing in public or while out and about in the D.C. area during the weekend,” the band’s board of directors said in a statement. “All minorities are at risk and any opportunity we give the new administration to co-opt a minority organization will likely be exploited to our detriment.”
Featured image via YouTube