On Tuesday, January 20th, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick took the oath of office on the south steps of the State Capitol. A huge outdoors barbeque lunch followed the ceremony. That still left time to squeeze in a parade before the evening ball at the Austin Convention Center. I couldn’t attend the inauguration and I wasn’t invited to the ball. But I did walk over to see the parade.
This was the first Texas inauguration parade since Rick Perry won his first gubernatorial election in 2003 (although he actually took over as governor earlier in 2000 when George W Bush became president). The parade followed the usual route from the Congress Avenue Bridge to the capitol grounds. “Heightened security” included bomb-sniffing dogs, police boats, black SUVs with tinted windows, and police helicopters.
Along with their families, Abbott and Patrick rode atop white convertibles near the head of the parade. Spectators were far-and-few-between where I was standing near Second Street, so I was able to speak to both of them. Our exchanges were something like “Congratulations, enjoy your day!” and “Thanks!” Except for the Texas Teacher of the Year, Shanna Peeples, who was riding on a float, I didn’t notice any other dignitaries.
The parade was organized by North, South, East, and West, with each section helpfully preceded by a banner for the directionally-challenged or non-native Texans. Austin was considered South, although we personally identify with Central or (clap clap clap clap) Deep in the Heart of Texas. We were proudly represented by The University of Texas Longhorn Band, stretching almost two city blocks.
It was thrilling to see so many military, high school, and college marching bands from around the state. My favorite was the Texas Southern University “Ocean of Soul” Marching Band from Houston with their energetic, high-stepping drum majors.
Texas A&M’s Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band also traveled here for the parade and looked impressive as they headed up Congress Avenue.
Politics aside, I must say that this was an excellent parade. The weather was clear and warm. Everyone kept moving along—unusual for an Austin parade—and it was over in exactly 30 minutes.
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