Alaskan dog sled racers, a mummer band, panels from the AIDS Quilt and an Elvis impersonator will march down Pennsylvania Avenue on Wednesday, each with their own story to tell about how they came to be in President Clinton's inaugural parade.

A potpourri mixing political pageantry and military precision with Hollywood glitz, the quadrennial spectacle will feature jugglers, miniature horses, high school marching bands from sea to shining sea and enough military units to liberate a small country.

More than 10,000 people will march in the parade, which kicks off at 2:30 p.m. from Third Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Lining the 15-block route will be tens of thousands of spectators and a mere 253 portable toilets.

Marching behind the University of Arkansas Razorback Band and in front of Miss Arkansas will be high school senior Jennifer DeVault of Ashdown, Ark., an all-American girl-next-door living out her dream by being able to twirl her baton for the Clintons.

"I felt like I won the lottery," said DeVault, who wrote Clinton asking for a spot in his parade even before he won. But to get to Washington, says her dad, the family had to go "begging" to local businesses to raise some of the estimated $4,000 in costs. They were happy to oblige. "Everybody just loves Jennifer and her twirling," said Dick DeVault.

The J.W. "Blind" Boone Highsteppers, 31 children who live in public housing in Columbia, Mo., usually perform in raggedy sweat shirts, but on Wednesday they'll be high-stepping in sequined tuxedos, the first new clothes some of them have seen in a long time.

Showing the nation how they survived, the Homestead (Fla.) Marching Broncos, their numbers decimated when uprooted families drifted or were forced away after Hurricane Andrew, will be among the proudest of the proud to march down the Avenue of the Presidents.

Parade planners culled through more than 500 applications to pick the lucky few. Here are some of their stories.

Jennifer DeVault was born to twirl.

A 17-year-old drama enthusiast and honor student who is taking four advanced courses this semester, Jennifer still finds time to teach the younger children in her home town. But mostly she twirls.

Four hours a day. "She doesn't do anything else" is how her dad put it. "She doesn't have a boyfriend." (Was that relief in his voice?)

Jennifer's love affair with her baton began in seventh grade, when she came home one night and announced, "Mom, Dad, I want to start twirling."

"I said, 'Jennifer, honey, you don't know how to twirl. You'll get hurt or lose interest or something,' " Dick DeVault recalled.

Instead, two months later Jennifer got the highest score ever at her junior high twirler tryouts. Now, 73 medals and trophies later, she is the reigning "Beginner Miss Majorette of Arkansas," is ranked 15th in the nation and has been offered a twirling scholarship to Southern Arkansas University.

After the nationals last summer -- and before the election -- she optimistically wrote her governor, Bill Clinton, saying that if she could march in his inaugural parade "it would make all those hours of practice worth so much more."

Dream on, dream on, Twirling Queen.

But then the inaugural people really called. Soon reporters started hounding her; ABC News even sent a film crew down to tiny Ashdown, which snuggles the Texas border about 30 miles west of Hope, Ark., the celebrated birthplace of You-Know-Who.

"I {have} barely had the chance to breathe," Jennifer said this week as she simultaneously prepared for finals at school and her first-ever trip to Washington. She is being accompanied here by her parents and the woman who fixes her hair.

Leaving nothing to chance, Jennifer said she would carry her $20 baton and $700 handmade twirling outfit with her on the flight from Little Rock today.

Some of the wounds Hurricane Andrew inflicted on Homestead, Fla., which bore the brunt of August's killer storm, remain. At the high school, fences are still down, wires still dangle. Many students left and did not return.

But other wounds are not so visible, although they cut deeper. Band director Rodester Brandon said the young musicians are now more guarded and less giving. He can feel it in their music. "They hold back," he said.

Half of the Marching Broncos' 120-member band never came back to school after Andrew. Of the 60 who did, only eight are back in their homes. Twelve live in trailers; four others commute an hour or more each day to get to school.

To raise the $35,000 to bring them to Washington, Brandon said he couldn't turn to the usual fundraising efforts because "there's no community here left to sell anything to." Instead, the city is paying the tab, helped out by some Japanese businessmen who raised $13,000.

Part of the money was spent on winter attire. Brandon finds irony in that: The band members now have $85 winter jackets but many of them still don't have homes.

The best thing that David W. Hersh can say about his band is that it sounds like any other.

That's no small feat considering that Hersh is musical director of the Burlington County Special Services School District, which serves physically, mentally and emotionally disabled young people from three New Jersey school districts.

"We don't want to be thought of as poor disabled people," said Hersh, himself severely hearing-impaired. "We want to be thought of as disabled people who've overcome their handicaps. And that's what you'll see on Inauguration Day."

About 65 percent of the 100 band members who will march have been playing their instrument only since September, said Hersh, "but they sound damn good. I'm proud of them."

When the inaugural invitation came in mid-December, Hersh quickly put away the music the band had been learning and substituted "God Bless America." "After all," he said, "you can't play 'Holly Jolly Christmas' for the president."

"It could be a mob scene. We'll need a lot of security. I hope the people along the parade route understand what happens when he makes an appearance," said Beth Ryan.

She's not talking about Clinton; she's talking about Barney.

Barney the Dinosaur, the purple-and-green toddler heartthrob whose recent nationwide shopping-mall tour lured an average of 20,000 fans to each of 65 stops, including 40,000 in Laurel.

Barney, star of the TV show "Barney & Friends," will ride in the parade atop a 24-foot red wagon, which Ryan, his spokeswoman, says should prevent adoring fans from rushing the police lines.

Barney and other PBS characters, including Big Bird and Thomas the Tank Engine, will be escorted by seven students from Ivy Mount School in Rockville, which serves special needs children.

Barney could be the only parade participant for whom heat exhaustion is a worry even in winter. Under that 80 pounds of fleece-like skin, said Ryan, "it gets a little toasty."

Rolando Barry broke down and cried when he told his drill team that they were going to the inauguration. Their hard work had finally paid off.

On Monday, the J.W. "Blind" Boone Highsteppers -- 31 children and young adults ages 7 to 17 who live in public housing in Columbia, Mo. -- will board a bus for the 24-hour ride to Washington. The bus has three televisions, a VCR and a bathroom, one drill team member said enthusiastically.

The Boone Highsteppers, who take their name from a turn-of-the-century ragtime composer, combine street dancing and military steps in their act. For 13 years, Barry has been their leader and more. "He's like a father to all of us," said Devin Hughey, 14.

Local residents raised $25,000 to buy the Highsteppers new drums and tuxedo costumes, and to pay for their trip. They will be staying in dorms at Howard University, which one booster said may help them realize there is life outside public housing.

The inauguration may offer a peek Inside the Beltway for the rest of the country, but for Rochelle Mitchell and some others it's just a hometown affair.

Mitchell, 36, a four-sport competitor who lives in the District, will be marching with 53 other Special Olympics athletes from around the country. She says she will wave to Clinton as she passes.

Both Anacostia and Eastern high schools will have cheerleaders along the parade route when Hine Junior High's 150-member Panther band marches by.

Andrew Cacho said that he is disappointed his African drum and dance troupe will be entertaining on the sidelines, rather than in the parade itself, but that he is still "excited to be a part of history."

And Susan Margolis, of Potomac, had hoped that her 5-year-old spotted Sicilian donkey, Chester, would be named the parade's "Official Democratic Donkey." Unfortunately for Chester, that title is claimed by Irene, a 17-year-old jenny who lives with Willie Kirk Jr. on his small farm in Tuskegee, Ala.

Chester will still get to be in the parade, but for now, as the Al Gore of donkeys -- if Irene is unable to fulfill her duties, Chester will succeed her -- he'll have to walk a step or two behind.

1789 -- GEORGE WASHINGTON began the tradition of inaugural parades when he was escorted to his swearing-in ceremony by members of Congress, government officials, prominent citizens and Army units.

1801 -- THOMAS JEFFERSON refused to ride by horseback, walking the entire route to his swearing-in ceremony.

1825 -- JOHN QUINCY ADAMS'S procession initiated the character of modern parades as militia, volunteers and marching bands accompanied the president-elect to the Capitol.

1841 -- WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON produced the first truly colorful parade, including the first floats: log cabins on wheels with cider barrels.

1861 -- ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S first parade was the first to enforce extensive security measures, using local police and Army sharpshooters who watched from rooftops along Pennsylvania Avenue.

1865 -- LINCOLN'S second parade marked the first time African Americans participated in an inaugural parade.

1869 -- ULYSSES S. GRANT, abandoning the tradition of leading the procession, became the first president to watch the parade from a reviewing stand on Pennsylvania Avenue.

1885 -- GROVER CLEVELAND'S parade included southern military units for the first time since the Civil War and marked the first time grandstands were used.

1905 -- THEODORE ROOSEVELT had one of the largest parades in history, with more than 35,000 men.

1917 -- WOODROW WILSON'S procession marked the first time women participated in an inaugural parade.

1921 -- WARREN G. HARDING was the first to ride up Pennsylvania Avenue in an automobile.

1937 -- FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, who ordered the bulletproof glass on his reviewing stand removed, was the first president to be inaugurated on Jan. 20.

1949 -- HARRY S. TRUMAN revived the tradition of leading the inaugural parade. It was the first parade to be televised.

1965 -- LYNDON B. JOHNSON'S safety precautions were the most stringent in history. In light of John Kennedy's assassination, windows along the route were ordered closed until Johnson returned in his bulletproof limousine to the White House. He watched the parade from behind bulletproof glass and from a bomb-proof reviewing stand.

1977 -- JIMMY CARTER, after taking the oath of office, rejected riding in an automobile. He led the parade on foot with his wife, Rosalynn, and daughter, Amy.

SOURCE: Compiled by the Inaugural Committee parade staff