Columbus State University music student Christopher Johns won’t be watching the presidential inaugural parade from the sidelines — he’ll be marching in it.
Johns has been chosen as one of the 150 members of the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps performing in President-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural parade on Jan. 20.
The Cadets are a marching band composed of young amateur musicians from around the world, all under 22 years old.
The Cadets usually go on tour during the summer, playing major sports domes across the nation.
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The inauguration invitation was a last-minute surprise, for both the Cadets and for Johns, he said.
To become a member, Johns sent in a video audition and attended an audition camp in New Jersey.
He found out he had a spot with the Cadets about a month ago, shortly after the corps was selected for the inaugural parade.
“It is a historic event,” said Johns, a freshman majoring in music education.
He said the corps, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, also has a “rich history” and is an important organization for music educators for the experience it gives young musicians.
In addition to summer tours, the corps has performed at events like the 2005 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics.
Johns’ primary instrument is the trombone, which is not a Cadet marching instrument, so he will play baritone in the parade.
The Cadets will play two parade tunes, “Strike Up the Band” and “Patriotic Medley,” during the march from the U.S. Capitol building to the White House.
The weeks before the parade will be busy for Johns.
Just a few days after his spring semester classes begin at CSU, he will head to a rehearsal camp in Woodstown, N.J.
The Cadets will spend Jan. 16 to 20 at Woodstown High School rehearsing for their parade performance, before leaving for Washington at 2 a.m. on Jan. 20.
But Johns said hectic practice schedules are just a part of being on tour with the corps.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s really intense, really busy. There’s a lot of sleeping on tour buses and sleeping on gym floors.”
Johns said he was honored just to be part of the corps, but that being able to march in Obama’s inaugural parade was “a really big historic deal.”
“It’s fantastic,” he said.