WASHINGTON — The Nassau Firefighter’s Pipe and Drum Band were among the 40 acts to march down Pennsylvania Avenue as part of the Inaugural Parade for President Donald Trump.
Months ago, long before the outcome of the election was known, the 45-member crew of volunteer firefighters decided to apply to participate in the parade, said band director Alan Jacoby of Wantagh, In December, the band was notified they had been approved.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, probably the biggest event we’ve ever done,” Jacoby said, noting that the band has played at New York Jets football games and before President George W. Bush at a 9/11 commemorative ceremony.
Jacoby said the public response to their participation in the parade has been positive — supporters donated nearly to $17,000 in an online fundraiser to help cover their housing and travel costs.
“Some people have tried bringing politics into it, but our response has been, it’s not about politics, it’s about being part of American history, representing the fire service in front of the Office of the President,” Jacoby said.
On Friday, the group, which has members from more than 30 Nassau volunteer fire departments, gathered at 8 a.m. at the Pentagon building, to get in position for the 3 p.m. parade.
“Overall the whole band is excited for the chance to be in the national spotlight,” Jacoby said. — LAURA FIGUEROA
Trump’s speech was cheered by his supporters gathered along the National Mall, and met with chants of “Not my president!” and “Love trumps hate!” by pockets of detractors also watching on the giant screens playing the ceremony.
Trump supporter, Elena Strujan, 61, of Lower Manhattan said his inaugural address gave her “hope” that Trump would bring more jobs to the country and ensure lawmakers “follow the Constitution.”
“He was born in luxury, lived in hyper-luxury, and now he will live in the White House, in a completely different environment than what he’s known, because he is a good patriot who wants to serve the American people,” Strujan said.
She boarded a 3 a.m. charter bus from Manhattan to make it to the inauguration, saying as a former volunteer for his campaign it was important for her to witness hand the “historic” occasion.
Meanwhile, throughout the National Mall, groups of anti-Trump protesters, huddled at various spots, holding up signs that described the incoming president as “racist” and “Putin’s Puppet,” referring to his relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
They were often yelled at by Trump supporters who shouted “He Won! Get over it!” as they walked by.
“Yes, he won, but now it’s a matter of what we will all do for the next four years,” said Maren Woods, 20, a protester who flew-in from Santa Fe, New Mexico. “Hopefully this will be the point where we unite and organize against racist and intolerant views.” — LAURA FUGUEROA
Earlier, crowds of Trump supporters had lined up Friday on the southern side of the National Mall. There were red caps galore, reading “Make America Great Again.”
Those accessing the general admission section of the Mall waited patiently for nearly three hours in the cold to go through security. When the drizzle began, the rain ponchos and umbrellas came out.
Manny Milete, 22, of Baldwin, arrived at 6:30 a.m. He carried a large American flag and wore a red cap covered in pins, including one that read “Long Island.”
“I wanted to be here for the history,” he said.
Milete, who works in business and is not registered in a political party, said he initially supported Marco Rubio. He came to quickly back Donald Trump and his policies, including his strong stance on national security.
Milete says he has friends who are immigrants and they agree Trump would focus on deporting “criminal immigrants,” including MS-13 gang members, not undocumented immigrants en masse.
“There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” Milete said. — EMILY NGO
John Rose and his three kids boarded a charter bus in Holtsville at 5 a.m. Friday for the trip to D.C.
“I never thought this day would come,” said Rose, 55, of Setauket, as he got off the bus at RFK Stadium shortly after 10 a.m. “I had to be here for history.”
The co-owner of a bagel shop, pizza place and other retail stores, he said he supported Trump from the beginning because of his business skills. “We’re overtaxed, over-regulated and overburdened. I work seven days a week and never get ahead,” he said. “Now I can get a day off and spend it with my kids.”
Gene Cella, 55 of Manorville, said he wanted to be here to watch the start of what he believes will be a turnaround for the country.
“I have to be here to support the president,” Cella, Rose’s business partner, said.
The Suffolk County Republican Party chartered two busses to go down the inauguration. — DAVID M. SCHWARTZ
There were many young faces in the sea of people who flooded the National Mall on Friday to witness the inauguration. Several students and school groups, some wearing matching hats, had planned to come before they knew Trump would be president.
Two Smithtown High School East students — Taylor Dachel, 17, and Brian Femminella, 16, both of Nesconset — were among those chosen for the Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit in the months before the general election.
The honor came with practical benefits (they were able to use the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as a “warming center” before the swearing-in ceremony) as well as once-in-a-lifetime exchanges with political and social justice figures.
Femminella said he met and spoke with former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley earlier this week. He said O’Malley recounted to him that the mother of someone who served in the armed forces asked the former Maryland governor not to use the phrase “boots on the ground,” because her son was more than a pair of boots.
The junior, who seeks to study cybersecurity in college and eventually work for the FBI or Secret Service, said of Trump being inaugurated: “He’s not my favorite, but Hillary wasn’t my favorite, either. But it doesn’t really matter to me, what matters is we’re here to witness history.”
Dachel separately said she was interested in the Secret Service and admired that they loyally served and protected the president, whatever his political party.
She said the summit afforded her the opportunity to hear a video address by Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai about the importance of education. Dachel, a high school senior, said Malala led by example and couldn’t miss school to come to Washington, D.C., in person.
Dachel said she has liked meeting other students “from different areas of the country” and similarly she said looks forward to a Trump presidency and seeing what a “different perspective can do for the country.” — EMILY NGO
On the corner of K Street and 10th Street in Washington, D.C., Rob Cortis and his son Kolby, 16, greeted spectators Friday in front of the 72-foot-long parade float they had hoped to drive down the inaugural parade route — they called it “The Trump Unity Bridge.”
Cortis, 55, has been driving the bridge — a white bridge decorated with American flags and Trump signs — throughout the country since October, racking up more than 20,000 miles on his SUV.
“The idea came about when Pope Francis said we should be building bridges not walls,” Kolby Cortis, a high school junior said, referring to comments the Catholic leader had directed at Trump. “So we got to work, with a lot of volunteers, and donations.”
The father-son duo who live in Farmington Hills, Michigan, said they repurposed an old wooden bridge they previously had running over a lake in their backyard. The new bridge now comes equipped with flashing lights, a sound system that blasts patriotic songs, a life-size cardboard cutout of Trump and signs that read “Drain the Swamp” and “Secure America’s Borders.”
They recently stopped in New York City as they headed to D.C., saying reaction has been mixed.
“Generally it’s been overwhelmingly positive, but every now and then you have people who flick you off,” Kolby said.
They had hoped to drive the bridge down Pennsylvania Avenue along with the other inaugural parade participants, but soon learned the application and security clearance process to participate had long closed.
“It still means a lot to here,” Rob Cortis said. “Our goal was to spread Trump’s message because we do believe he will be one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen.”
— LAURA FIGUEROA
One word came up again and again in conversations with the Trump supporters who gathered Friday in the cold, wet weather on the National Mall: history.
The Rasmussen family traveled from Selden to Washington, D.C., to be part of the festivities with a cousin who lives near the capital. They were ready with rain ponchos.
“It’s history, basically. We can all say they we were here,” said an elated Nicole Rasmussen, 46, a service adviser at a car dealership. “I still can’t believe that he won.”
Rasmussen said she supported Trump from the start.
She called the celebrities protesting against Trump “bullies” and added that Hillary Clinton was attending the swearing-in ceremony because she had political motivations, such as running for mayor of New York City.
Rasmussen was in town with her husband, Adam, 45, a retired NYPD officer, and their children, Lindsey, 18, and Kyle, 15, high school students.
Lindsey Rasmussen lamented that she hasn’t turned 18 in time to cast a vote for Trump.
Nicole Rasmussen said she was inspired by Trump’s speech and moments such as everyone standing still and quiet during The Star-Spangled Banner.
She said she believes Trump “is truly a president that loves the United States and truly wants the best for our country.”
— EMILY NGO
In the midst of angry flare-up between Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters, two men on opposite sides found common ground.
Richard Jones, 62, a Trump supporter decked out in hunting camouflage, heard shouted insults hurled at him as walked past a protest. It infuriated the Army vet and retired construction worker. Then he walked past Ben Maier, 30, a student wearing a large sign that read “Inaugurate the Resistance.”
“Hi. Keep warm,” Maier said to him and other passing Trump supporters.
The unlikely pair struck up a conversation in which they explained and discussed their differences and embraced their shared beliefs.
“I saw people over on that side that were pretty ugly,” Jones said. “But I can shake his hand and be a friend and he can have any opinion he wants.”
“I’m trying to smile and look past the anger,” Maier said. “I think we can have a civil discourse. It’s about trying to keep America great.”
“We can’t be hatin’ on each other,” Jones said.
— MICHAEL GORMLEY
Many of the signs raised high by protesters at Columbus Circle, in the shadow of an inaugural checkpoint, were designed to gain attention, from well-known memes insulting Trump’s hands to bracing declarations of resistance.
But as Janet Wilkins stood along a fence, the simple handwritten sign she held low by her side brought outsized attention. It read: “2017 Inauguration is an American Tragedy.”
“It’s just a sad day,” said Wilkins, a retiree who traveled from Seattle with her grown son and close friend.
She said she had planned her trip to Washington to protest the day after Trump was elected.
“We were pretty distraught,” Wilkins said, noting that she typically doesn’t participate in such events. “We’re generally pretty mild-mannered, but this was just too much.”
Her son, Bishop Wilkins, a software engineer, said the family knew of a large Trump protest planned in Seattle this weekend, but preferred to be part of Saturday’s Women’s March in the district, which they expect to be a historic gathering.
“I want to lend as much mass as possible here,” Bishop Wilkins, 37, said. — PAUL LAROCCO