Wee Band Will Take a Big Step to Inauguration

Times Staff Writer

It was 10 degrees below zero last Saturday and the ground was covered with snow. But the high school band in this sleepy little town--as it has every day for two weeks in weather not much warmer--marched for two icy miles.

"We're improving," shouted rosy-cheeked flutist Laura Weideman, 16, between notes as the band played "There's No Place Like Nebraska" while marching down Eldora Avenue through Weeping Water's tiny business section.

Represents Small Towns The 38-member band has been practicing for its date Monday in the Presidential Inaugural Parade, which will have a float, band or other entry from each state, down Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue. Weeping Water's band will represent the state of Nebraska and--symbolically--small towns all across rural America before millions of Americans watching on television.

"This is the most excitement Weeping Water (population 1,138 has ever had," said Ted Wilson, 56, custodian at the high school, which has an enrollment of 86 girls and 85 boys. "Jaws could never get these kids to march outdoors in weather like this before."

"Jaws" is Tom Jaworski, 32, leader of the high school band. He explained how the invitation to Washington came about:

"I'm the school painter during summer vacation. I guess the (paint) fumes got to me one day last August. I got to thinkin', wouldn't it be great for the school band to march down Pennsylvania Avenue in the presidential inaugural."

A registered Democrat, Jaworski wrote a letter to the National Republican Party headquarters asking how bands are selected for the event. "I believed the polls. I played my hunches and went with the Republicans," the band leader confided. He was sent an application that he filled out.

"The impossible happened. Little old Weeping Water High was selected over several big high schools in the state for the honor."

So each day for the past two weeks Jaworski has been blowing his whistle and leading the band in the long practices in their red and white uniforms from the high school past Toomey's Trucking, over the narrow bridge that spans Weeping Water Creek, through downtown and the residential section.

Leading the band in the inaugural parade will be two banner carriers, teacher Charlene Walters, 38, wife of Air Force pilot Capt. Donovan Walters, who has been missing in action over North Vietnam since Dec. 21, 1972, and local electrician Jim Murphy, 37, Army veteran of 18 months in Vietnam. Both have sons who play in the band.

Parents of band members have staged "super suppers," pancake breakfasts and several raffles to raise the $11,300 needed to pay expenses for the 1,000-mile charter bus trip to the nation's capital. The bus leaves for Washington, D.C., tonight.

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