One GW student did not need to secure a spot on the University’s float to have a role in the inaugural parade.
Junior Joe Lewis is in his sixth year playing the baritone in the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, which is similar to a marching band but contains only brass and percussion instruments and a color guard. Headquartered in Allentown, Pa., the Cadets were selected to perform in the inaugural parade, where they will march what is expected to be a two-mile parade route.
Referred to as “Marching Music’s Major League,” competitive drum corps involves an 11-minute, highly choreographed, intricate marching performance with up to 150 members, all under the age of 21.
The Cadets’ participation on Jan. 20 will be straight marching – different from the typical theatrics that a drum corps generally performs for an audience. They were only notified in December that their parade application had been accepted and will rehearse during the entire long weekend leading up to Inauguration Day.
“You’d be amazed at how much coordination it takes to maintain a straight line while making a turn from one street to another,” Lewis said.
Despite the intensive rehearsals, Lewis said there has been little other special preparation for their performance. As part of the application process, all 150 Cadet members were required to submit their names, hometowns and Social Security numbers for Secret Service background checks.
The Cadets are nine-time world champions and participated in the 1986 rededication of the Statue of Liberty and 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta. Tuesday will be their first appearance in an inaugural parade, but the selection by the Presidential Inaugural Committee was not a surprise to Lewis.
“Next to the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, there are no other organizations in the country that come close to the excellence and professionalism of DCI Corps,” he said of the North American Drum Corps International.
Lewis has performed in front of a crowd of 30,000 for the Drum Corps World Championships. This year he is also the horn sergeant, the leader of the corps’ brass section.
Despite the added pressure of the inauguration spotlight, he is confident in the Cadets’ performance.
“I’ve been through the motions,” Lewis said, now in his final year with the corps before he becomes too old to participate this summer. “I’m hoping that logistically everything comes together.”