With just a little more than a month left before President-elect Donald Trump is officially sworn in — barring any dramatic changes that result from the Electoral College, that is — it is time to start making plans for the inaugural parade. For the last five parades, at least one marching band from a public school in the Washington, D.C. area has participated. This time, though, NBC Washington reports none of the schools in the area have applied.
A D.C. Public Schools spokeswoman told NBC that she didn’t know of any band in the school district that had applied to take part in the January 20 parade.
The boycott of the inaugural parade has apparently also spread to the university level, with D.C.’s Howard University marching band refusing to participate, citing “too few members” and “budgetary constraints.”
The Howard University director, though, has also suggested that the bands’ reasons extend beyond budget issues.
“I think everybody knows why and no one wants to say and lose their job,” John Newson said. It should also be duly noted that — although all are welcome to apply — Howard is an urban historically black university.
The original deadline for bands to apply was November 28, but the date was extended to December 5 to allow bands more time, according to a spokesman for the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, a group of U.S. Armed Forces service members who are part of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. No one from the committee responded to questions about how many applications had been received.
NBC also spoke with Luke Wiscombe, the marketing director of Music Celebrations International, an Arizona-based company that organizes band trips for schools throughout the United States. Wiscombe revealed that, even nationally, interest in being a part of the inaugural parade has waned.
“We didn’t get the response that we got the last time, with Obama. Some groups responded, but with some groups it was crickets,” Wiscombe said. “We’re seeing a little less enthusiasm to be a part of this event.”
Apparently, the majority of inquiries the company has received are from bands in the South, with a few others from the Midwest and Northeast.
While many of the bands who are opting out of the performance have not given specific reasons explaining why, the Lesbian and Gay Band Association — which performed at President Obama’s second inauguration — did not mince words in a statement explaining why they would not be participating this year. The band cited safety concerns as their number one reason for avoiding the parade.
“While the parade route itself should be a safe zone, we cannot hope to guarantee our safety while traveling, while rehearsing in public or while out and about in the D.C. area during the weekend,” the band’s board of directors said in a statement. “All minorities are at risk and any opportunity we give the new administration to co-opt a minority organization will likely be exploited to our detriment.”
Watch: Here’s one of the top marching bands you won’t see at the inaugural parade.
Here’s a performance from Ballou High School, one of the local marching bands that has chosen to avoid the parade, below, available via YouTube.
Featured image: Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images.