Reichert House drill team gives inaugural parade a local flavor

The Santa Fe High band also took part in Tuesday's parade.

Reichert House Youth Academy marching Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2010, in Governor's inaugural parade in Tallahassee.

Courtesy of Reichert House
Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 7:40 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 7:40 a.m.

For the boys and young men who participate in the Gainesville Police Department's Reichert House Youth Academy, being at Tuesday's gubernatorial inauguration in Tallahassee offered a glimpse of heights they might not know they can reach.

At least not yet.

Police Chief Tony Jones accompanied the academy's drill team — ranging in age from 10 to 18 and grades from fifth to 12th — as it participated in the parade, one of two local groups to march the 1.5-mile route that passed the Capitol and the state's 45th governor, Rick Scott, who was sworn in earlier in the day.

"It was a first for all of us," Jones said, "but I think the young men represented the Gainesville community and the police department well."

Jones said he hoped the event boosted the esteem of the 27 drill team members, who, like all participants in the after-school Reichert House program, are considered at-risk young men.

"If you can instill hope in them, if you can instill some esteem, that whatever the goals for themselves, they can achieve them," the chief said.

As the Reichert House drill team passed by Scott; his wife, Ann; and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, the team saluted.

The governor saluted back, Jones said.

Other local officials, such as Alachua County School District Superintendent Dan Boyd and Chuck Clemons, Santa Fe College's vice president for development, were in Tallahassee for more political reasons as a new wave of leadership took office.

But like Jones, Nate Bisco was there with dozens of students for the parade.

Bisco, the band director at Santa Fe High School in Alachua, said the 58 students in the band performed the U.S. Navy march "Anchors Aweigh" as a tribute to Scott and Carroll, who both served in the Navy.

For a lot of the students, it was their first trip to the capital. But being in Tallahassee on inauguration day was hardly a run-of-the-mill field trip.

"They were all really amazed by the whole experience up there," Bisco said.

Prominent local Republicans such as state Sen. Steve Oelrich, who was elected to a second term in November, were there, but none of the local GOP officials made it.

Stafford Jones, the chairman of the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee, said he had just returned from a snow-plagued trip to Tennessee and Robert Woody, the party's state committeeman and the director of the Alachua County jail, who served on Scott's transition team for law and order issues, didn't attend either.

The party's secretary, DeLena May, was in Washington ahead of U.S. Sen.-elect Marco Rubio's swearing-in at noon today.

May said she would have liked to have been in Tallahassee but was excited to visit Washington and get to see Rubio, a West Miami Republican, take office.

"It's going to be really cool," she said.

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