Newport teen to ride in inauguration

This week, Ellery Sever has been riding a black horse through frigid temperatures in Culver, Ind., while "Video Killed the Radio Star" and "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)" blast on loudspeakers.

Sever, 18, of Newport Beach, is preparing to ride in President Obama's inauguration parade Monday as part of his boarding school's storied horseback unit.

For about three months, he and the Culver Military Academy Black Horse Troop have ridden in formation holding American flags while they desensitize their horses to marching in parade conditions.

Campus security cars drive past with their sirens on, fog machines pump simulated steam along the ground and '80s music blasts to mirror the cover band they'll be behind.

"They don't want any new variables to be introduced in the parade," Sever said.

The senior grew up in Newport but has spent his high school career far from the beach in northern Indiana.

When he heard the news his troop would ride, Sever was home with his parents over Christmas break — a month and a half after the unit had already started practicing in anticipation of the possibility.

Four years ago, Sever and his parents were considering private high schools when he met a Culver representative and studied a brochure.

The 1,800-acre boarding school with about 800 students boasts graduates like former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and Weather Channel founder Frank Batten.

Sever decided it was the school for him, and despite having no equestrian experience, he asked to enroll in their prestigious horse troop program.

Now he'll be riding in a nationally televised event and says the only thing he's nervous about are the variables he can't control.

"There were plenty of kids who hadn't ridden before," he said. "As time goes on, you get assimilated and you do a lot of different kinds of riding."

This year, the 58-member unit celebrates its 16th time marching in a presidential inauguration, starting as the escort for Vice President Thomas Marshall during Woodrow Wilson's 1913 parade.

"This is the biggest event we do and it's the 100th anniversary of us doing it," Sever said. "It was something that I really always wanted to do."

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

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