Helmut Schmidt and Patrick Springer, Forum staff writers, Published January 21 2013
VIDEO: Inaugural parade ‘an amazing experience’ for locals
The Fergus Falls (Minn.) High School marching band member was ecstatic Monday, fresh off finishing the route for President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade.
“I’ll be telling everyone about this someday!” the senior trumpet player said. “It was a pretty amazing experience.”
The president even gave Minnesota’s representatives a couple of waves as they passed in review, singing “Yankee Doodle,” she said.
“People just sang really loud and shared the pride, I guess,” Vogel said.
Vogel was one of several locals who participated in the inaugural parade.
North Dakota was represented by 42 members of its tribal nations, said organizer Prairie Rose Seminole.
“Oh, my God, it was awesome,” Seminole said. “I don’t think we knew what was in store for us. But it was a beautiful, awesome, exciting, humbling experience for us. It was awesome.”
Seminole said the group was the only organization on the mile and a half route to carry a flag honoring a Medal of Honor winner – Army Master Sgt. Woodrow Wilson Keeble of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.
Keeble earned the medal fighting with the 24th Infantry Division during the Korean War.
“(All the) military personnel, once we passed them, would salute us, because we had the Medal of Honor of flag with us. That was a beautiful experience,” Seminole said. “That was probably the favorite moment to happen throughout the parade.”
Seminole said the delegation was the only one to represent the Plains tribes, and that they’d be happy to return for a pass in front of the next president.
“To have the opportunity to bring together our tribal nations is hugely rewarding, just to have that sense of community, and to have that sense of community recognized on a national level, we took that as a proud moment for all of us,” Seminole said.
This year, more than 8,800 people and 200 animals were part of the inaugural parade. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and their families watched from a reviewing stand in front of the White House.
Molly Spaeth, a 2007 graduate of Fargo South High, held the sign announcing the North Dakota participants.
Spaeth is in Washington after working for former Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. A friend of a friend was working on the inauguration committee and asked if she would like to carry the North Dakota sign. She jumped at the chance.
“It was such an honor, not only to be in the parade but also to represent North Dakota,” she said.
When passing the reviewing stand in front of the White House, Spaeth’s eyes met those of Biden, who smiled as she passed.
“I feel like we had a moment,” she said.
The crowd responded warmly when the North Dakotans marched past.
“There were a lot of people who yelled ‘North Dakota,’ ” Spaeth said. “It was really cool.”
It was just after 5 p.m. Central time that the Otters’ marching band got it’s time to shine in the national spotlight, appearing during the parade’s televised broadcast.
Scott Kummrow, the Fergus Falls band director, said it was a long day of hurry up and wait to get to that point. He counseled the students to be patient.
“That’s the price you pay for playing for the president,” he said.
But once they started marching, it was a fantastic experience.
“Every time I looked (back) at the band, the capital was lit up. It’s so awe-inspiring,” Kummrow said.
The band’s instrumental and vocal renditions of “Yankee Doodle” were a crowd favorite, he said.
“We were marching down the street, and people were singing with us,” he said.
By 6 p.m., all that was left after a long, exhausting day was to eat and hop on the bus for the marathon two-day ride home, Kummrow said. But that didn’t deter him from considering applying in four years to again take a group of Otters in an en masse pass down Pennsylvania Avenue.
“It’s a big morale booster for the community,” he said. “I think we’ll consider it. It’s a very fun event.”
Readers can reach Forum reporters Helmut Schmidt and Patrick Springer at (701) 235-7311
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