POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 19, 2012
Two Hawaii school bands will participate in President Barack Obama's second inauguration Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C.
John Riggle, longtime director of the Kamehameha Schools marching band and color guard, was notified Tuesday of the official invitation in a phone call from U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.
The Punahou School marching band also has been officially invited to participate in the 57th inaugural parade, according to the band's website. It's the second invitation for the band, which participated in Obama's first inauguration in January 2009.
Punahou is Obama's alma mater.
Riggle said it's unheard of to have two schools from the same state march in the parade.
"That's got to be a first," he said.
Invitations to march in the parade — a tradition that dates to George Washington — are being offered and accepted as part of a rolling process, the parade planners said. More than 2,800 online applications were submitted to the task force that is organizing the parade, more than double the nearly 1,400 organizations that applied to take part in Obama's first inauguration.
"It's a tremendous honor, to say the least," Riggle said. About 100 band members will march down Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and the White House.
Riggle said he applied to participate the day after Obama won his second term.
The event is notable also because Akaka will be leaving Congress after 22 years in the Senate and 13 years in the House of Representatives. Akaka, 88, is the first Native Hawaiian to serve in the Senate.
The marching band also will honor U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who died Monday.
The Kamehameha band last participated in an inaugural parade for President Bill Clinton in January 1993. Riggle said the band plans to immediately start fundraising to help cover travel costs for the band, estimated at $280,000, or $2,800 per student.
Punahou Marching Band Director Mark Falzarano could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The New York Times contributed to this report.