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Band Declines Inaugural Invitation

January 11, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ One of the high school bands invited to perform at the inaugural celebration of George W. Bush has declined the invitation in a huff.

The Westbrook (Maine) High School marching band, which has been winning state and national awards for 20 years, decided not to come to Washington because it was not given a spot in the parade, but instead was offered a spot as a warm-up act.

Officials at the Presidential Inaugural Committee did not return phone messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The band’s music director, George Bookataub, said he and the 90 students applied to march in the parade because that’s what they do best. But they were offered a stationary position 90 minutes before the parade is to begin.

``I said, ’But that’s not what we do. We didn’t send a tape and information about our concert program. We sent it about the marching band,‴ Bookataub said.

When he asked what they would do afterward, if they could join the parade then, he was told they could watch the parade from the sidelines or leave and go back to their hotel.

``We felt it was kind of a slap in the face to the state,″ he said. ``We just felt that we couldn’t go to the people of this state and the corporations of this state ... and ask them to support something we didn’t feel that we were chosen to do and really wasn’t going to give us any representation. They weren’t going be able to see this band on television marching in front of the president.″

The students, school and booster club would have to raise about $47,000 to send the students to Washington and house and feed them, he said.

Bookataub said the situation is especially upsetting to the students.

``They’re disappointed obviously because they wanted to be there representing their state and marching in front of the president,″ he said. ``These kids work very hard. They’re very committed.″

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