The Philadelphia Freedom Band is attending the inauguration as part of the larger Lesbian and Gay Band Association that will include 215 musicians from across the country. The playlist includes "Tonight" from West Side Story, "The Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga, "Give Me Everything (Tonight)" by Pitbull and a compilation of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Simple Gifts."
This isn't the first time the Philadelphia Freedom Band has sent members to march in the parade: Two attended in 2009, including former band president Chris Johansen, a trombonist, who remembers it as the coldest day of his life.
Johansen reactivated the Philadelphia Freedom Band in the summer of 2008 after it had been on hiatus for some time. At first, practices consisted of only six to 10 regular members. Now the band has 50 to 60 people on its roster, including some straight allies who just want to play.
The 14 members in Washington on Monday paid for their own travel, uniforms and housing, adding up to a couple of hundred dollars - a financial burden for some members. Kesselman, for instance, set up an online donation site so she could raise funds to attend. Johansen encouraged everyone who had even the slightest interest in attending, because it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Especially for this president, who expressed his support of gay marriage in an interview with ABC News last May. The LGBA had to apply to participate in the parade before the elections, so members had no idea who they would be marching for before they decided to attend, or whether they'd be selected if Mitt Romney became president.
"This is a man we're really proud to be welcoming back," said Patti Calandra.
Others weren't so uniformly positive about the president's record. "Once gay marriage is no longer taboo and there are equal rights, then I'll be excited," said piccoloist Patti Carey, 26, of Dowingtown.
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