Later this month, the Pride of the Southland Band will continue an honored tradition—representing the state of Tennessee in the presidential inaugural parade in Washington, D.C.
The band will march in the 58th inaugural parade on January 20, 2017.
This will be the band’s 15th appearance in an inaugural parade—more than any other civilian organization. Their first parade was in 1953 and they’ve marched in all but two inaugural parades since then, according to School of Music records.
“It is an honor and a privilege to participate in one of our country’s great democratic traditions,” Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students, and it is a testament to their talent and to the reputation of the Pride that they have been selected to march in the parade.”
Through the years, people from all political persuasions have expressed concerns about the university’s participation in the parade. Regardless of political party, the band has marched for every president since Dwight Eisenhower.
Donald Ryder, UT’s director of bands, said the band applied to be part of this year’s inaugural parade in October—before the election was held.
“Our involvement is not about politics,” he said. “Rather it is about giving our hard-working students the opportunity to represent the great state of Tennessee with pride at a historic event.”
Because marching band season is over, the trip is entirely voluntary; students can decide whether they want to attend. More than 300 band members have indicated they plan to make the trip.
“Being part of the Pride of the Southland is an exercise in dedication,” Ryder added. “Our band members collectively devote about 183,000 hours to practicing and performing each year.”
The Pride of the Southland Band will play “Rocky Top,” “Fight, Vols, Fight,” and “Down the Field” during the parade.
This year’s inaugural parade, which will begin at the US Capitol and end at the White House, is expected to be Washington’s most highly attended event of the year. More than 8,000 people in 40 organizations—ceremonial military regiments, citizens groups, high school and university marching bands, equestrian corps, first responders, and veterans groups—will be part of the parade. The parade is open to the public and will be televised live.