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A Parade Veteran Still Loves His Marching Orders

(1997 photo courtesy of Charlie Brotman)

With all this talk of change, you might wonder if the irrepressible Charlie Brotman had announced his last inaugural parade.

But no! The 81-year-old PR man and former voice of the Washington Senators will be back Jan. 20, binoculars in hand, as part of the team narrating the passage of the presidential inaugural parade.

It will be Brotman's 14th consecutive inaugural, his 11th president, in 52 years, starting with the 1957 inauguration of Dwight Eisenhower. Some traditions an incoming president just can't mess with.

"It's a major 'Wow!' for me," Brotman told our colleague David Montgomery yesterday.

Over the years, Brotman has enjoyed a perch in the media box across from the presidential reviewing stand, where it's been his job to give the VIPs in the bleachers -- including the new president -- advance notice of the marchers as they turn onto Pennsylvania Avenue.

He may be the world's greatest connoisseur of inaugural parades. He remembers Jimmy Carter's, when the president walked, and Ronald Reagan's first inaugural, so long that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir arrived in the dark. Reagan's and JFK's "were the two biggest and best, and they were the biggest and best personalities," he said -- then quickly added Bill Clinton to that list. Clinton's arrival at the White House on his second inaugural was so late that Brotman had the ticket-holders doing the wave to pass time in the bleachers.

He's got high hopes that the new guy will join the parade -- and join the Brotman list of best inaugurals. "It appears to me that with Obama's personality, I think he'll do a little walking."

By The Reliable Source  |  January 6, 2009; 1:02 AM ET
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