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Band members share memories of Inaugural trip

by Merrie Leininger

Freezing rain and screaming protesters dampened the honor of playing during the Presidential Inauguration, but the Douglas High School band found great memories in other areas during its trip East.

The students returned to Reno in two groups Monday night. Tuesday afternoon, they sat in the band room, watched a videotape of their trip and reminisced.

Tuba player Russel Bearce, a junior, said he was happy to be anywhere East.

“It was great to see stuff I’ve never seen before and stuff my mom told me about, because she’s from New Jersey,” Russel said. “It was really amazing to soak in the history of our country. We learn about it in class and it’s like, ‘Yeah, whatever,’ but being there was very amazing for me.”

Junior Kelly Holden, who plays the drums, said her favorite part of the trip was spending time with her bandmates.

“Just being on the bus and bonding and everyone getting along was the best part. And finding out how funny everybody is,” Kelly said.

She also enjoyed visiting the Lincoln Memorial.

“I always wanted to sit on the steps,” she said.

Junior Renee Lietz, who plays tuba, said she was too cold to be impressed with much during the parade.

“It was a lot colder than here. I had four pairs of pants and four shirts on. I was just cold,” Renee said.

Otherwise, she had a good time and she was impressed with the Arlington National Cemetery, in part, because both her parents are retired Marines.

“It was a very respectful time. It had special meaning to me,” she said.

Trumpet player April Crandall, a sophomore, said her favorite memories are of visiting historic Mt. Vernon and the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial with its multitude of waterfalls.

She said protesters made their mark on the trip.

“They tried to talk to us. Some lady yelled at me because she said they are going to outlaw abortion. They were blaming us for ushering in the downfall of the country. It was scary,” April said.

Tuba player Rachel Gero, a senior, was also surprised by the anger of the protesters.

“It was really crazy. Everyone was mad and whining and had really weird signs. I didn’t think it would be like that. People were really mean and booing at everybody,” Rachel said.

Despite that, she had a fun time taking pictures of her teddy bear at every memorial they visited.

Band Director Bill Zabelsky said the Inauguration of George W. Bush had the dubious honor of including the highest number of law enforcement officers.

“The neat part was we got a police escort going through all the red lights to get to the staging area. I knew they would have snipers on the buildings and we could see them everywhere,” Zabelsky said.

Despite the cold, he sat through the whole parade to watch the other bands.

“We were at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue and we saw Bush, before he was president, go from the White House to the Capitol. The parade was just spectacular. The smallest band marching was from Pennsylvania and had 150 people. They looked just tiny. Some of the college bands had more than 300 people,” Zabelsky said.

The Douglas High School band numbered 55, and about 10 chaperones also traveled with the group.

Kathyrn Chase was one of the chaperones, who were mostly band parents. Her sons, Ian, a junior, and Graham, a sophomore, both play in the band.

She said the group had to get up at 3 a.m. the day of the parade, travel to the Pentagon, go through metal detectors and wait for the Secret Service to search its bus before even traveling to the performance area.

“(The band) was wonderful. They received a lot of cheers and applause from the people in the crowd. I was really proud of them, how they hung in there. They really rose to the challenge. We did see some people who got in fights, but they were very professional in their performance,” Chase said.

She said although many areas were closed off to prepare for Inaugural activities, the group was able to visit Smithsonian museums, the Air and Space Museum, the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam and Korean War memorials.

Chase said at the Vietnam Memorial some of the students looked for names of relatives.

“Some of the kids had names. One of the girls was able to come away with a rubbing from the wall of her grandfather’s name for her father,” Chase said. “I was amazed by how the kids were moved.”

The group also visited the Capitol, where the students met Sen. Harry Reid, (D-Nev.) and Congressman Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.).

One of Reid’s assistants gave the group a tour of the Congressional chambers, which was the best part of the trip for Megan Mattas, a sophomore who plays tenor sax.

“Because that is where they actually pass laws. We sat where they sit and we saw where the vice president comes in,” she said.