By Jenni Whalen
BU News Service
For Julia Micou of Wellesley, Mass., the logistics, the cold and the crowds of Inauguration Day 2013 were inconsequential. She was tired, and her hands were cold, but this was her first inaugural march and she could barely contain her excitement at the prospect of seeing President Barack Obama in person.
More than 8,800 parade marchers from all 50 states, Micou included, arrived at the Pentagon early this morning to practice their acts for the 2013 Inaugural Parade in celebration of Barack Obama’s second term as the President of the United States.
The participating groups in the parade varied from Canine Companions for Independence, Micou’s group and a national nonprofit that provides assistance for disabled adults and children, to the Gym Dandies Children’s Circus, a unicycle team from Maine, to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, a Civil War reenactment group based in Boston, MA. And whether this was their first inaugural march or their seventh, most of the marchers were enthusiastic about their personal involvement in the inauguration.
“With all of the ways that Obama has related himself to Abraham Lincoln and Lincoln giving him the privilege to be where he is today, and with the colored troops serving Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, its quite significant that we’re here,” said Joseph McGill, an honorary member of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment’s Company A.
McGill marched in the parade for the first time during President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration. This year, the weekend was not as cold, he said, nor was the capital as crowded. Still, he predicted that marching past Barack Obama and his family would be just as exciting as it was in 2009.
Members of the United States Navy Band were also enthusiastic about their march in the parade. For Master Chief Musician Aaron Porter of Gainsville, Georgia, a French horn player who has spent 26 and ½ years in the service, today’s march will be his seventh and last in a presidential inauguration. “During the last inauguration, it was a great thrill to be a part of history,” he said. “Now, I’m just excited to be here. This is an example of real democracy, of a truly peaceful transfer of power.”
Thousands of people flocked to Pennsylvania Avenue to watch the parade and hopefully catch a glimpse of President Obama later that day. After much waiting, the parade began late in the afternoon and lasted for several hours. And despite the incredible variety of parade participants, most individuals were focused on setting their eyes on Barack Obama.
The president’s slow procession down Pennsylvania Avenue prompted screaming, jumping and crying for Americans of all ages, even though Obama did not leave his vehicle. The parade marchers, most of whom were able to catch a quick glimpse of the president and his family in the reviewing stand, were also ecstatic.
Nicolas Defrietas, 14, of Brooklyn, N.Y. could barely contain his excitement as he jumped up and down in front of the metal gate that separated him from the parade and the president. Afterward, he struggled to put his experience into words.
“My heart was pounding and I was screaming as Obama went by,” he said. “It was awesome. I can’t believe that he was right there, behind that car window. He waved at me.”
“We got to see Obama up close,” Micou said after her march. “It was an incredible day. I took pictures of Obama’s face, of the most powerful man in the world.”
The parade continued into the evening as mariachi dancers, high school bands, floats and men on horseback made their way from the Capital Building to the White House. And while it may not have been the 2009 Inauguration, there was still a feeling of celebration in the air.