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2 Mich. drill teams to march in inaugural parade

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Two Michigan groups are among 40 chosen to participate next week during the inaugural parade, which steps off following the official swearing in of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20.

The Mid America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team, based in Three Oaks, will march in the parade, along with the Michigan Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team and Color Guard, which is made up of officers from around Michigan who volunteer for the unit.

The Mid America Cowgirls are based in Three Oaks.

Trump will lead the parade, which travels down Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Capitol to the White House. The parade began in 1873 with the inauguration of President Ulysses S. Grant, according to the White House Historical Association.

The Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team has a GoFundMe page to help cover the estimated $18,000 cost of transporting 18 riders and horses to Washington from southwest Michigan. Their entourage will total 44, including family and friends, in a caravan of five trucks and trailers for the 700-mile trip, said Debbie Dunphy, the team captain.

The team, established in 2007, applied for the inaugural parade in 2008 but wasn’t chosen. Riders range in age from 10 years old to 60-plus, Dunphy said.

“Honestly, I have goose bumps right now. It’s such an honor to be chosen — that this committee feels we’re worthy of being in front of the president and vice president of the United States, plus millions of people who will see it on TV and along the parade route,” Dunphy said. “It’s not political. It’s American.”

The Michigan Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team and Color Guard marched in the last two inaugural parades in 2009 and 2013, with about 20 mounted officers participating. This year, the team is bringing about 22 horses, said Lorenzo Veal II of Ann Arbor, a retired police chief from Highland Park.

Participating officers hail from counties around the state, including Macomb, Livingston, Lenawee, Washtenaw and Cheboygan counties.

“It’s a historical event no matter what you think (of Trump). We’re not political in the law enforcement community. Once he’s commander in chief, he’s commander in chief,” said Veal, a retired detective lieutenant with the Michigan State Police.

“We’re proud that the president asked us. ... We hope that we’ve created a legacy, so that we’re invited to every inaugural from now on.”

mburke@detroitnews.com

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