KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band received its 11th consecutive invitation to represent the state of Tennessee at the upcoming 55th Presidential Inaugural Parade on Thursday, Jan. 20, in Washington, D.C.
The band received its first invitation in 1965 for Lyndon B. Johnson’s inauguration. Since that time, the Pride of the Southland Band has marched at every presidential inaugural parade for 40 years.
“It is a great honor for us to represent the University of Tennessee and the state of Tennessee at this international event, and we are thankful for all of the support we received from across Tennessee and in Washington, D.C.,” said Dr. Gary Sousa, director of bands.
Only 74 groups were selected from hundreds of applications to perform at this year’s inaugural parade. Each group submitted an extensive application to the presidential inaugural committee, including letters of support from political leaders.
“Congressman Duncan, Senator Alexander and Senator Frist were very supportive,” Sousa said.
In his letter of support to the inaugural committee, Senate Majority Leader Frist wrote: “I have had the privilege of watching and hearing them perform in the past, and I have been in awe of the talent of the dedicated young men and women who comprise the group. They are able to lift the lowest of spirits after a poor football game, and I have no doubt they would do the same to elevate the souls of the great crowds for the events of the inaugural.
“It would truly be an honor for me to share this Tennessee treasure with the rest of the country and even the world.”
The UT band will depart for the U.S. capital on Tuesday, Jan. 18. The musicians will spend time preparing for the parade and performing for selected events on Wednesday, before marching in the parade, scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.