BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — The Hernando High School band was the only band in the state-of-Florida selected to march in President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in January of 1977.
The 98-year-old is currently in hospice care after a series of brief hospital stays. HHS band members from 1977 told 8 On Your Side the former President’s condition caused them to pull out old scrapbooks.
“Enough time has elapsed that the community doesn’t remember that we went, and that we were a part of his presidential career from start to now,” said Todd Mau, a former HHS band member.
The band consisted of nearly 200 students who were surprised with an invitation to perform at the inauguration parade in Washington D.C.
Before getting on a train to D.C, Former Band Director Steve Manuel shared the group raised over $45,000 within a month’s time.
“The town, the community, the county all jumped in and donated money,” Manuel said. “We had one fundraiser after another from picking oranges, fish fry dinners, mullet.”
For many band students, it was their first experience traveling outside of Florida and seeing snow.
“We were from a small town this was nothing that you would ever expect that we would get to do,” said Jeannie Gassman, a former HHS student.