The Inaugural Parade Day
While Punahou students proceeded through the security screening process, from "dirty" to "clean", they were under the control of the military, with only the band directors, ROTC colonel and Dean Fletcher. That story will have to be uncovered later!
The world was witness to the rest of the festivities and events that installed and celebrated the new president. From the crowds witnessing the swearing-in ceremony to the packed fields of the mall to those lining the parade routes, the day was uplifting and hopeful. Celebrating with strangers who were neighborly, generous and fun added to the experience.
For parts of the parade course, administering the oath of office and President Obama's speech were made available and punctuated by cheers and clapping.
The students were prepared and in place for a 3:00 p.m. start, set out in the detailed time schedule. Unfortunately, the delays to the Obamas parade also adjusted the entire parade, and the Punahou students, in their location of honor, were held in formation in the biting cold.
The Inaugural Parade is actually two parades: the first featured the new president and vice-president, while the second included 15,000 participants, 2,000 of which were military. Among the military units, floats and horse units, there were only 46 marching bands, chosen from the 1,000+ who applied.
The first parade arrrived late, with the military details escorting the president and vice-president. One unit inclulded in the escort was the Fife and Drums unit who visited Punahou several years ago.
After the president and vice-president took their seats in the reviewing stand, the second parade began. Punahou's position as the first civilian participants placed them after the seven various army units. Punahou was easy to spot with their colorful placards, banner and primarily white uniforms.
As they passed the reviewing stand, President Obama and his family flashed the shaka sign, which was picked up by media cameras. The students completed their 1.6 mile parade after a very full, long and cold day! After the dispersal point, they headed to their buses and to the band's hotel.
Students did a quick change and headed out again, on foot, to ESPNZone for dinner. It was a special treat and well enjoyed despite the tiredness. In fact, many who were dragging upon their return from the parade, responded to the food, camaraderie and fun at ESPNZone. The elation of the important day buoyed their spirits.
After a quick walk back to the hotel, the band transitioned to departure-mode. A quick meeting celebrated the day and laid out the plans. Packing boxes were out again, hat boxes were filled, uniforms hung and instruments packed. By 10:30 or 11, students were turning off lights, thinking about the early wake-up call that would come before dawn.
The cadets and cheerleaders used the Metro to reach their hotel and settled in for a more leisurely departure schedule.
It was an amazing day, filled with pride in Punahou and its students, honor to represent Punahou and Hawai'i in a highly visible and pivotal event and hope for the new administration.