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Think Finding An Inaugural Room Is Hard? Try for a Band.

Construction continued this week on the inaugural stand. The inauguration could draw millions to Washington.
Construction continued this week on the inaugural stand. The inauguration could draw millions to Washington. (By Alex Wong -- Getty Images)
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Interest in the parade has been unprecedented.

The Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, which does the first screening, received 780 applications from groups that were appropriate to march in the parade, more than double the number that applied for the 2005 parade for President Bush's second term.

Fewer than 100 bands and other groups were selected in 2005.

An additional 600 acts -- choirs, poets, vocalists and other performers -- applied to participate in whatever else might be happening inaugural weekend, said Navy Lt. Mike Billips, a spokesman for the armed forces committee.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee, which makes the final choices, has not set a date for the announcements.

"I would expect that [the presidential committee] would want to do it quickly so that the groups can make their travel arrangements," Billips said.

The contestants are trying their best angles. In its application, the Grant Wood All-City Drum and Bugle Corps of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, noted its status of being from the state that kicked it all off for Obama. "We would be honored in this particular year to rise up from our flooded community and represent the state that gave President Elect Obama his first caucus victory," the group's submission stated. "We ask your profound consideration to be a part of such a memorable, defining moment in history."

If the group gets chosen, it plans to stay in Philadelphia, where the 45 children and 45 adults can visit the Liberty Bell and grab cheese steaks. It would be much deserved after a marathon bus ride.

Slayton Thompson, Grant Wood's band director, was reluctant to make solid plans until the group could find out whether it has been selected -- a hesitation that has had a cost.

Grant Wood performed in the 2005 inaugural parade and stayed that year at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, a relatively short drive from downtown, which could have been secured this time with a $1,000 deposit. But Thompson didn't send in the money. "I didn't follow my gut," he said.

Karen Blazaitis, of Michigan's Mid American Pompon All Star Team, said her group, which has performed choreographed cheerleading in four inaugural parades, wants to march again this time. The group has been making calls but turned up no accommodations.

But some potential parade participants are lucky enough to have housing lined up.

The 18 horses of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Mounted Patrol Unit have reservations at the Prince George's Equestrian Center, said sheriff's Deputy Paula Hite.

Finding shelter for the riders has proved more difficult.

She said the sheriff told her that he could help the humans into some welcoming homes. "I said, 'Okay, not a problem,' " Hite said.

It's that or snuggling next to Cisco, her quarter horse.

"My horse is pretty warm. I guess I could bunk down there with him," Hite quipped.


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