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University of Delaware drumline will escort Biden to the White House during inauguration

Jeanne Kuang
Delaware News Journal

Thirty-five current and former students from President-elect Joe Biden's alma mater, the University of Delaware, will perform in his inauguration in Washington on Wednesday.

The UD Drumline and the Howard University Drumline will escort Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to the White House after they are sworn in and help kick off a virtual "Parade Across America" event, the Presidential Inauguration Committee said Monday.

A traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House won't happen this year due to concerns surrounding the pandemic and public health.

Instead, the virtual, televised event will feature performers and participants from all 56 states and territories, the inauguration committee said.

THE INAUGURATION: Everything you need to know

Representing Delaware in that event will be Hockessin's Chinese Cultural Arts Center, also known as the Chinese American Community Center, according to the inauguration committee.

"We want the first moments of the Biden-Harris Administration to be a celebration of an inclusive, resilient united America,” said Delaware State University President Tony Allen, CEO of the committee.

The drumlines will be the only two civilian groups to participate in the inaugural events in person. 

Vice President Joe Biden gives remarks at the University of Delaware's inauguration of its 28th president, Dennis Assanis.

UD's drumline includes freshmen students and recent alumni. They were notified they would perform in the inauguration early this month, the university said in a news release.

"Being able to participate in this American tradition first-hand is incredibly meaningful for our students," said marching band director Heidi Sarver, who will travel to Washington with the band. "This particular Inauguration is very personal to our Blue Hens as we celebrate our alum, President-elect Joe Biden, as the new leader of the free world."

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The drumline will perform two pieces, including "Blue Hen Cadence," composed by the band's assistant director, Jim Ancona, who will also travel to Washington.

Despite fears that pro-Donald Trump rioters would return to Washington on Inauguration Day, Biden has said he's "not afraid to take the oath outside" on the Capitol steps.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden arrive for the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2017.

But much of Wednesday's festivities will be altered because of security concerns and the coronavirus.

Biden will forgo his iconic ride on the Amtrak from Wilmington to Washington. And the public is being heavily discouraged from attending events in person on Wednesday, with tickets to the ceremony limited. 

UD's Fightin' Blue Hens Marching Band previously performed at the inauguration in 2009 of Barack Obama when Biden was sworn in as vice president. That year, other Delaware marching bands also performed. 

Biden and Harris take the oath of office at noon on Wednesday. 

Contact Jeanne Kuang at jkuang@delawareonline.com.