Two Michigan-based drill teams — the Mid America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team and the Michigan Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team and Color Guard — along with Michigan high school bands and orchestras, will be performing in President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration parade later this month.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee released the performance selections on Dec. 30 for Trump and his Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s inauguration ceremony, which will take place Jan. 20 in Washington D.C. following the candidates’ official inauguration.
“People from every corner of the country have expressed great interest in President-elect Trump’s inauguration and look forward to continuing a salute to our republic that spans more than two centuries,” said PIC CEO Sara Armstrong in a press release.
The Three Oaks-based Mid America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team, an equestrian drill team featuring a variety of horse breeds, will send a group of 44 women and 18 horses to Washington D.C.
Upon being selected, Debbie Dunphy, team coordinator and captain, said in an interview with the Harbor County News she was shocked and knew they had to kick it into high gear.
“I really couldn’t believe it,” Dunphy said. “There’s so much to do but they don’t give us a lot of time.”
On the other hand, this will be the Michigan Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team & Color Guard’s third inaugural parade, having performed in both of Barack Obama’s inauguration celebrations in 2008 and 2012. The organization is famous for choreographing intricate drills with horses.
Adena Collens, a senior at Berkley High School in Berkley, Mich., is a member of her school’s orchestra program. Every four years, the orchestra travels to Washington D.C. to perform in the WorldStrides Inauguration Heritage Festival and attend the presidential inauguration. But this year, Collens said she opted to stay behind.
“Personally, I’m not politically aligned with Mr. Trump but at the same time, my dad is going to chaperone on the trip and we both were concerned for our safeties,” she said.
Collens cited the violence that has been promoted at Trump’s rallies as one of the reasons she would fear for her safety if she went on the trip. She also said race is an important factor behind to why some of her friends will not be heading to Washington D.C. with the orchestra.
“I’m white, so I wouldn’t personally be targeted for my race,” Collens said. “I have friends who aren’t, and that’s the reason why they cannot go. It makes me a little upset that we’re still going on this trip even though it wouldn’t be safe for my friends of color to be in the crowd for hours.”
As for the rest of the inauguration celebration, many musicians in recent months have outwardly rejected Trump’s inquiries about performing. Acts such as Elton John, Kiss, Celine Dion and others have publicly declined offers.
When asked why the Mid America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team accepted the job, Dunphy said her team put politics aside and decided to represent the organization as citizens of this country.
“We’re doing this because we’re Americans,” she said. “We look at this as an honor.”
In response to musicians refusing to play, Collens said she is supportive of people who stand by their morals but will not judge acts that choose to perform.
“People should believe in what they believe in and support the people that support their own beliefs, but I do also know that there are some circumstances where corporate pressures and the pressures of being a freelance musician, it’s difficult to say no to a gig,” Collens said.