Members of the Nassau County Firefighters Pipes and Drums Band are preparing for the performance of a lifetime — the 58th Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20.
Strains of “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America” will fill the air as the band marches past the reviewing stand on Pennsylvania Avenue, said Bobby Hughes, 55, of East Meadow, the band’s drum major.
Those tunes will be played on 24 Great Highland bagpipes and will be accompanied by two bass drums, a tenor drum and five snare drums. The band will play songs from five sets during the 1 1⁄2-mile parade, Hughes said.
The group is one of 40 bands that will march. Hughes will go to D.C. early for a meeting and expects to get band members’ credentials and find out what time they must report to the pre-parade lineup. They’re looking forward to the projected 50-degree weather for the afternoon parade, which follows the swearing-in ceremony of Donald Trump.
“It’s much easier to play in warmer weather when you can feel your fingers,” Hughes said.
What’s on the playlist?
“Scotland the Brave,” “Rowan Tree,” “Let Erin Remember” and “Minstrel Boy,” Hughes said. They’ll also play “Nassau County Firefighters,” a tune written in 2008 just for the volunteer firefighters bagpipe band by Edward Cameron, the band’s pipe instructor and a member of the New York Metro Pipe Band.
All aboard — who’s making the trip?
Hughes said 35 of the band’s 38 members will attend the inaugural parade. They’ll arrive by bus.
That magic moment — when did you find out the band had been selected to play?
“We applied a few months ago and didn’t think much more about it,” Hughes said. “A week after the phone call, we got a letter saying congratulations, and since then we’ve been busy. Everyone had to get credentials from the Secret Service, go to the website and submit information and pictures.”
Who will pay for the trip?
Hughes said the band is footing the bill for the trip, including bus transportation and hotel costs. They are seeking donations and have raised $11,000 toward the $20,000 goal. See the group’s Facebook page (facebook.com/ncffpd) and its GoFundMe page (gofundme.com/js9n5w), or send checks to the Nassau County Firefighters Pipes & Drum, PO Box 669, Levittown, NY 11756.
What else is the band doing to prepare?
Hughes said that since the December confirmation phone call, they’ve added more practices, have been sprucing up their uniforms and have replaced equipment. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and we want to sound good and look good,” Hughes said. “We’re representing Nassau County Fire Service.”