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OSU's band to be at Bush inauguration

Twelve years ago, President Bush gave the Ohio State University marching band a standing ovation as it played in his inaugural parade.

Now, the band is preparing for an encore.

The nation's largest all-brass-and-percussion marching band will take its 225 members - 22 of them from northwest Ohio - to Washington on Friday to play in Saturday's inaugural parade for the former president's son, George W. Bush.

“Honor is the first thing that comes to mind,” said Jeff Knowles, 20, a sophomore sousaphone player from Toledo. “It's all part of being there and being part of history.”

“I think it's great to be a part of something like that,” said Adam Nightingale, a senior from Sylvania who plays trumpet.

He said the band learned it was the only one from Ohio chosen shortly before it left for Florida to take part in the Outback Bowl, where the football team lost 24-7 to South Carolina.

“It's exciting in a different way because it's not football-related,” he said of the inaugural parade.

This will mark the fourth time the university's marching band has taken part in a presidential inauguration. In addition to the elder Bush, the band marched in Richard Nixon's 1968 and 1972 inaugural parades.

“It was darn cold,” Paul Droste, the band's director from 1970 to 1983, said of the 1972 inauguration.

This time, the 1.9-mile parade beginning about 2:30 p.m. will include about 90 bands representing 45 states. Arkansas, Maine, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Washington will not be represented because “they didn't have a submission,” said Michele Stember, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

OSU's band was chosen over four other submissions from the state. “They're just amazing,” she said.

The marching band hopes to raise $55,000 to fund the trip, school officials said.

It plans to play four songs: “Beautiful Ohio,” “Fight the Team,” “I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State,” and “Buckeye Battle Cry.”

“It's interesting because I think this particular parade, because of the historic significance of this particular election, seems to have more interest than any one I can remember,” said Dr. Jon Woods, the band's director.

This was the first presidential election Erin Horton, a junior from Perrysburg, was able to take part in. She voted for Mr. Bush.

“That kind of tops it all off,” she said.

Neil Rupp, a senior from Bowling Green, won't have his mind on politics when he's in Washington. “That will probably hit me after we do it,” he said. “What's going through my mind is just marching down the street.”

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