St. Louis' Lesbian and Gay Band Association chosen for President Obam's Inaugural parade

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By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter
--The St. Louis area’s Lesbian and Gay Band Association has once again been selected to perform in Washington D.C. for  the Inauguration Day parade for President Barack Obama.

So far, the band is the only Missouri group chosen for the honor, according to the announcement late Tuesday by the inaugural committee of the first round of invited participants.

Lawrence Miskel, one of the Lesbian and Gay Band members, said it was informed just shortly before the formal announcement of the first wave of participants chosen for the parade, slated for Jan. 21, after Obama is sworn in that day for a second term.

"I feel truly honored to represent St. Louis, Missouri, the LGBT and arts communities," Miskel said. "I remember being so proud as I played my heart out as we marched by the stand where the Bidens and Obama's were standing in 2009. It's such an indescribable exhilarating feeling, it's hard to articulate it."

According to its application, the band said its members “will  include 280 musicians from 27 states and the District of Columbia.”

And what will they play? Miskel said the selections are to include the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” – in part to mark the fact that Inauguration Day will coincide with the holiday marking the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,’s birthday – and “Tonight,”  the marquee song from the musical, “West Side Story.”

In 2009, the band had played “A Brand New Day,’’ to mark Obama’s historic election as the first African-American elected president.

The Lesbian and Gay Band Association was among more than 2,800 organizations who submitted applications to participate in the inaugural parade.  The inaugural committee said the number of applicants is more than double the number that applied to take part in President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.

The association’s chances may have been boosted by more than two dozen letters of recommendation from prominent officials from Missouri and around the country.

Among them:  U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay,  U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D- NY, and Al Franken, D-Minn., and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz , D-Fla. and chair of the Democratic National Committee.

McCaskill wrote in her recommendation that the band “has a long history of musical excellence and is sure to please the many spectators who will line the parade route…”