Top Mississippi high school band preps for Inauguration Parade at Front Royal, Virginia school

Story and photos by Dan McDermott
Warren County Report Newspaper

17 year-old T. J. Taylor stands in 30 degree weather with 16 year-old Joy Grimsley as the two baritone players await practice outside Skyline High School in Front Royal, VA Jan. 19.

Both are members of the 160-strong Petal High School Band in Petal, MS which was selected to represent the state of Mississippi in the 2008 Presidential Inauguration Parade in Washington, DC. More than 1,300 different bands applied for 70 slots in tomorrow’s  march through the nation’s capitol. Petal HS will be the only representative from the state of Mississippi.

A slightly shivering Taylor, who had traveled from a town 30 degrees warmer, was bursting with pride at the opportunity to represent a state of almost 3 million people at what is expected to be the largest attended Inauguration Parade in American history. “It’s a true blessing for me to be in this organization and to see the President and to be able to march in the parade. To be in the band selected out of all the different bands in Mississippi is a true blessing and an honor,” Taylor said.

Front Royal, VA Mayor Eugene Tewalt, Town Councilman Shae Parker and Warren County, VA Administrator Doug Stanley were among the local dignitaries who welcomed the band.

The students and many of their parents and boosters will spend the night at the Northern Virginia Regional 4-H Center since D.C. hotel vacancies are virtually non-existent.

Hear the drum line practicing: Petal High School Drum Line

[140 total pictures. Click on the picture above for more.]


  1. The Petal Band earned that title for a reason, they just don’t hand it out. We work hard 24/7, and we don’t take no for an answer. If we fail, we will try hard next time. We will pratice when ever possible. The teachers are hard on the us to help us learn, and we know that. I’m sorry if you only talk smack about Petal because we probably went up against one of your teams, and won. If your team would have won, my freinds and I would be congratulating you. We know how hard it is to be in a band. We work non stop because we want to reach that goal. We want to be called the greatest band in Mississipppi, and you know what? We got it. The Petal Band has been woking on getting that title before I was even born! For years Petal has been trying to get noticed, and now we are. I myself enjoy being in the band. It’s great! I hope you can understand and not just talk badly about us, because I can promise you one thing. Petal Band never talks bad about other Bands, no matter what. We think of how hard they worked.

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