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Inaugural Parade Begins At The Pentagon, Moves To D.C.


It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne. One of the liveliest parts of today's events dates back to the very first Inauguration, and that would be the inaugural parade. After George Washington took his oath of office, he was joined by a procession made up of local militias as he made his way from Mount Vernon to New York City. Today, the parade is a colorful blend of marching bands, floats and different organizations led by ceremonial military regiments.

NPR's Neda Ulaby has just made her way to the parade staging ground. Good morning.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Good morning

MONTAGNE: So, we've been talking to some of our other colleagues this morning, and I gather just getting in place has been difficult for everybody, what, with road closures and security. What about you?

ULABY: You know, it's actually been fairly smooth. I'm very, very happy to report people are in a good mood out here in the Pentagon parking lot. It's a beautiful morning. The sun's coming up. We're gazing out over a vast expanse of asphalt and a flotilla of white buses, where we are watching people loading up and heading towards the Mall.

MONTAGNE: Yeah, so you are starting there at the Pentagon, but, of course, soon enough, it'll be right here in Washington, D.C. There must be - these guys must have got a really early start.

ULABY: You know, the excitement here is not palpable. I think that that is an accurate description. People here are very tired. They are a bunch of people here from places as - well, you know, Hawaii, from Illinois, from Kansas, and, you know, it's a little sluggish. I think people are conserving their energy, because it is going to be a huge parade out there on the Mall.

MONTAGNE: Oh, yeah.

ULABY: Eight official floats, 60 groups, marching bands, mounted units. There are going to be almost 9,000 people marching in this parade, and almost 200 animals.

MONTAGNE: And they'll get their energy back for sure, but who is in the first wave? I mean, what will we first be seeing as it sort of approaches?

ULABY: Well, we're starting off with a bunch of military folks, as you can imagine. There's the presidential escort, U.S. Army staff, U.S. Army field band. And then the National Guard is going to be marching. We've got a bunch of representation from Hawaii, as you can imagine, the Hawaii home state float, the Illinois home state float. There's a - one of my favorites is a vintage World War II ambulance project from Connecticut.

We've got people from Kansas, the KU trumpet ensemble. Then some people from other parts of the country: we've got the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor group commission from South Carolina, the Miami University marching band. And we've got a drill-and-drum corps from Iowa. And maybe that's a thank-you for the primaries. I don't know.

MONTAGNE: And remind us of when the parade starts and what its route is, because I think that's a bit interesting.

ULABY: Oh, yeah. Well, it starts at 2:30, and it's going to wind its way up, you know, pretty much through the Mall, the parade. You know, one of the funny things that's different from this Inauguration and the last is right now, everyone has apps. And we've got several different military people showing us, you know, the very complicated Air Force-designed app where you can see there's access points for pedestrians, and all of this information.

And everyone's got their apps, you know, so completely fired up and ready to go. And I think it's actually going to make the Inauguration parade much smoother than it has been in the past.

MONTAGNE: Neda, thanks. We'll be talking to you later. NPR's Neda Ulaby at the Inauguration parade staging ground. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.
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