Students to Take Part in Obama Inauguration Parade

January 19, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan University students Megan Francomb and Andrew Tobin will become part of history as they march in the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Parade on January 20, when President-elect Barack Obama will take the oath of office.

The two will be playing for the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps, an independent corps out of Dubuque, Iowa. The Armed Forces Inaugural Committee notified the Colts in December that their application to be part of the parade, one of a record number submitted, was accepted by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. See the official schedule of Inaugural Events.

Andrew Tobin

Andrew Tobin

“I cannot wait to be there,” said Tobin, an Illinois Wesleyan junior who plays the baritone for the Colts. “This is something I will be telling my children and grandchildren about for years to come.”

Megan Francomb

Megan Francomb

Francomb, an Illinois Wesleyan first-year student who plays the cymbals for the Colts, says it will be a “surreal” experience. “This is the first time I could vote, and I will be playing in the Inaugural Parade for the man I voted for. Never did I think that could happen.” Both of Francomb’s sisters are also in the Colts, and will join her in the parade. “We all started playing together, and all of us going to Washington, D.C. together makes it all the more exciting,” she said.

The two students left Bloomington on Saturday and will return on Wednesday. During their time in D.C., they will rehearse and perform the song “76 Trombones” from The Music Man for the parade. “We are representing the state of Iowa, so we thought this would be an apt song from a musical that takes place in Iowa,” said Francomb.

The parade begins at the U.S. Capitol and runs nearly two miles along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Planners for the inaugural parades have estimated the crowd for this parade will be larger than others due to the historical significance of Obama’s election to office. “I was looking at our itinerary and there was a note that they were limiting the parade to 300,000 people watching,” said Francomb, a theatre arts major at Illinois Wesleyan. “I’ve never performed for that many people before. I think I’m not so nervous now about the crowd, but I might be when I get there.” Tobin, an English major, agreed that the numbers are not phasing him. “When you are playing, there could be 300 people or 3 million, but you tend to focus on your instrument,” he said.

Both Tobin and Francomb started playing in a junior version of the competitive corps called the Colt Cadets when they were 12 years old. “The first time I saw them, I thought, ‘I need to be there,’” said Tobin, who was born and raised in Dubuque. The Colts summer camp was just across the border for Francomb, who grew up in Elizabeth, Ill. “Mom would drop us off at the Cadets on her way to work,” said Francomb. 

Over the summer, the Colts and Colts Cadets play engagements throughout the Midwest and take part in national drum and bugle competitions. Anyone over the age of 18 can try out for a spot with the Colts. When they were old enough, Tobin and Francomb auditioned for the Colts, Tobin in 2004 and Francomb in 2007.

The Colts are inviting both active players and alumni to join in the Inauguration Parade, which means the event will be a reunion. “One of the best parts of playing in the Colts is the friendships you make,” said Tobin. “It will be great to see everyone again.”

Contact: Rachel Hatch, (309) 556-3960