Members of the South Shore Drill Team received the honor of a lifetime when they learned they had been among the groups invited to perform in the 2013 inauguration day festivities.
The 32-year-old South Side institution was notified by the Presidential Inaugural Committee Tuesday that it would be marching behind Obama from his swearing in at the Capitol to the White House on Jan. 21, according to the Associated Press.
“We’re just thrilled for our kids,” the team’s Administrative Director Sara Vlajcic told the Tribune. “We’re just breaking it to our kids and they cannot believe it.”
According to the drill team's website, members range from ages 8 to 21, and are nearly 300 performers strong. They are most well known for their appearances in the annual Bud Billiken Parade, but the drill team marches at roughly 125 events yearly. Earlier this year, the team performed for Michelle Obama and the spouses of NATO world leaders in Chicago.
"First and foremost, the organization is a prevention program devoted to helping young people in some of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods steer clear of gangs, drugs, and violence while developing a strong work ethic, self-confidence, and a respect for themselves and others" reads the drill team's mission.
For the inauguration, the team will send its senior-most members. Vlajcic told the Tribune the team must pay its own way and hopes to raise about $45,000 to underwrite the trip.
Making the cut for the event is a process that seems like a Federally overseen version of "America's Got Talent": starting in October, the application process fires up and is run by the military, according to the AP. Three thousand online applications are reviewed and whittled down to a pool of 300 that are ultimately presented to the Presidential Inaugural Committee for final selection.
"As you can imagine, everybody wants to participate," Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington told reporters at a briefing Wednesday.
More performers will be announced in the coming weeks, though committee officials told the D.C.-area magazine, Washingtonian, the 2013 inauguration will be exciting, but more scaled-back compared to the 2009 event.