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Parade Announcer Entertains the Waiting Crowds

(2:20 p.m. -- Reviewing stand in front of the White House)

As people streamed into the area for the inaugural parade, the parade's announcer kept the crowd entertained by pointing out the notables who were coming into the stands.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the people you're seeing coming into the president's stand now are dignitaries coming over here from the capital," Charlie Brotman announced over a loudspeaker, adding, "Over there, that's Martin Luther King III."

Brotman grinned as the crowd in the bleachers below him cheered. Brotman, a jovial-looking man of 81, whose cheeks glowed red in the cold, has been lead announcer of the last 14 inaugural parades, from Eisenhower on.

He can remember when the president's viewing stand didn't have bullet proof glass.

"Then Kennedy was assassinated and that changed everything."

And those flood lights over Pennsylvania Avenue? They were added after Reagan's first inauguration, when the parade went so late that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir had to march past the president in the dark.

"It was so strange, we could hear them but we couldn't see them."

For all his experience, Brotman says he's never been as excited over a parade.

"I expect this to be the best parade yet -- there's so much passion, and I've never seen this many volunteers," he said. "This inauguration is truly historic. It's changing the world. And for me to have my little pinky in it, well, it's incredible."

By Amy L. Kovac  |  January 20, 2009; 2:46 PM ET  | Category:  Crowds , Parade , Point of View
Previous: User Photos of D St. Problems, Crowds | Next: Byrd, Kennedy Leave Lunch for Medical Reasons

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