Reporting Christie Ileto
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — The Mighty Sound of Maryland has reason to make some noise.
Christie Ileto explains how the band is getting ready to take center stage at Monday’s inauguration.
The University of Maryland is making some noise. And come Monday, the thunderous sound will be coming from Pennsylvania Avenue.
“I’m playing for the president of the United States!” said Raj Bajwa.
Howard County native Raj Bajwa and the 255 member marching band is still in disbelief that they’re performing in Monday’s inaugural parade.
They were selected from more than 2,800 bands, and for the seniors in the group:
“I can’t think of a higher note to end it on,” Bajwa said.
“It’s super exciting!” said senior Malia Kelsey.
The band will be sporting new uniforms, and playing the Washington Post March and their school’s victory song.
Christie Ileto: “I’m sure you’ve played the victory song millions of times. What’s going to make playing that song so special?”
Patrick Benton: “We’re playing it not for football fans, but for the whole country.”
It’s a national stage that comes with some jitters.
“There’s nerves,” said Bajwa.
But don’t be fooled by the nerves. This is their fourth time in their 104 year history that the marching band has serenaded inaugural audiences. Other inaugural parade performances include presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
“I can’t think of a better band to do this than these kids,” said Director Dr. L. Richmond Sparks. “This is the best band that I’ve had in the 29 years that I’ve been here.”
But right now it’s about being pitch perfect.
“We’re going to come back, got to hit the ground running with rehearsal on Sunday,” said Andrew Cahoon.
That’s their first practice before the big day because of winter break.
“We’re used to kind of going on the fly for game days,” Cahoon said.
And even though this isn’t their home turf, the band says it’s ready to perform for the man of the hour.