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DHS band invited to Inaugural, needs $75,000

by Merrie Leininger, Staff Writer

Apparently, Douglas High School band director Bill Zabelsky has some pull with the Bush family.

The DHS band will have the privilege of playing for the new president during the Jan. 20 inauguration in Washington, D.C. Twelve years ago, the band marched in the inauguration parade before George Bush Sr. was sworn in.

“We’re the official George Bush band,” Zabelsky joked after finding out Friday morning the band was invited again for 2001.

In reality, Zabelsky had to woo politicians and submit many items. He wrote letters to both candidates before the election, many senators and the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee asking for selection for the event. He was notified Friday morning the band will be warming up the crowd before the parade.

Zabelsky said he had to fill out a four-page application, submit audio and video tapes, pictures of the band and what music they would play.

Then, the Armed Forces committee makes recommendations to the Presidential Inaugural Committee after Bush was selected.

“They said there were hundreds of applicants and we were the only group from Nevada; I guess on virtue of what we sent them. They picked something from each state,” Zabelsky said.

He said the band will be playing on a street corner along the route before the parade starts, then will have front-row seats to watch the parade.

“We have to be in the Pentagon parking lot at 6:30 a.m.,” Zabelsky said.

The trip will be very expensive and the band will need some help from the community.

“Airline tickets are expensive and then room and food. I think we’re looking at a minimum of $75,000. I’m not sure. We have about 60 members right now,” Zabelsky said. “We did this 12 years ago and the community and state were more than generous. Being as we’re the only Nevada representative, hopefully, we’ll get the support of the community.”

To help the band pay for the trip, donations may be sent to the DHS band, in care of Douglas High School, PO Box 1888, Minden 89423.

Band members haven’t yet been notified because they are on Christmas break, but Zabelsky said they will be ready.

“I’ve already envisioned quite the concert. We will be playing all the marching songs from this year, last year and the year before. It will be new music for a lot of the kids, but I don’t think there will be a problem,” he said.

He said while some of the music is patriotic, they also want to entertain the crowd and will play Spanish-American numbers and songs from Sesame Street.

To help the band pay for the trip, send donations to the DHS band c/o Douglas High School, P.O. Box 1888, Minden 89423.