The schools will feature only the drum line sections of their marching bands instead of the entire ensemble, a safety measure taken to limit the number of people at the event. The coronavirus continues to rage, and unprecedented security measures are in place to secure the District.
The drum lines will be the only civilian groups participating in-person in the inaugural events, officials said.
About 35 members of the University of Delaware community will join the president-elect in Washington this week.
“It’s not just an honor. It’s also quite humbling,” said Heidi I. Sarver, the university’s marching band director. “Being able to participate in this American tradition firsthand is incredibly meaningful for our students. This particular inauguration is very personal to our Blue Hens as we celebrate our alum, President-elect Joe Biden, as the new leader of the free world.”
The drum line will perform two selections, including “Blue Hen Cadence,” a nod to the university’s mascot and Delaware’s state bird. The university’s band also performed at the 2009 presidential inauguration, when Biden was sworn in as vice president.
Wayne A.I. Frederick, president of Howard University, said the drum line section of the university’s Showtime Marching Band will perform alongside members of the school’s Flashy Flag Squad and Ooh La La Dancers — about 40 members in all.
“It is perfectly fitting that the Showtime Marching Band, the ensemble that captures and reverberates the heartbeat of our institution, should accompany her on this last leg of her journey to the White House,” Frederick said. “It was that steady pulse of her alma mater’s legacy that propelled her forward.”
The group has been working on its performance since August, said Kelvin Washington, Howard’s band director. After months of virtual rehearsals, the squad met on campus last week to practice about 20 minutes of drum cadences that will be performed at the inauguration.
Courtney Gilliam, a women’s studies graduate student and co-captain of the Flashy Flag Squad, said it feels “euphoric” to be involved in an inauguration that will see the first Black, first Asian and first female vice president sworn into office.