Dover announcer recalls inaugural honor

Dave Skocik, of Dover, shows his ID badge and manual for the 2005 inaugural parade in Washington, D.C., where he had the surprise honor of calling the parade for George W. Bush. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

DOVER — Back in 2005, Dave Skocik of Dover stood alongside a legend at the inaugural parade of George W. Bush.

No, it was not President Bush or any of the other dignitaries.

Instead, it was Charlie Brotman.

Charlie who?

Charlie Brotman. He’s a big deal in the inaugural parade announcing business.

Mr. Skocik, known around here as the longtime announcer of the Dover Days parade and other events such as the state Spelling Bee, ended up in the main announcing booth at the White House with him quite by chance.

“I didn’t know who Mr. Brotman was but the media spent quite a bit of time interviewing him before the parade,” Mr. Skocik said. “I said to him, ‘You must be famous.’ He replied, ‘Yea, I’ve been doing this since Eisenhower.’”

This year, the parade will be without Mr. Brotman, now 89, for the first time.

Mr. Brotman got an email saying President-elect Donald Trump’s parade committee was going with someone else but they offered him a prime seat and the title “Announcer Chairman Emeritus.”

“I’m disappointed,” Mr. Brotman told The Washington Post. “I know I can do it. I know that I’ve done it many, many times. They ask me every time and it’s such an honor.”

Team Trump has appointed Steve Ray, a Washington, D.C., announcer, to the role. Media reports say Mr. Ray was rewarded for volunteer work on the Trump campaign.

A former Washington Senators ballpark announcer, Mr. Brotman was chosen by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be the lead announcer at his 1957 inauguration parade.

President Eisenhower had heard Mr. Brotman’s voice at the ballpark on opening day in 1956. Whitey Herzog, then a rookie, and Harmon Killebrew were on the team.

Not knowing until later that evening, he found out he and Mr. Brotman were the voices of the C-SPAN parade coverage,

As it turns out, Mr. Brotman will have an announcing gig after all.

The Washington NBC affiliate will use him for its live coverage.

***

So how did Mr. Skocik wind up next to Mr. Brotman that day?

In 2004, Mr. Skocik was serving in the U.S. Navy Reserve in the Pentagon,

Six months ahead of the inauguration, he volunteered to assist, not knowing what assignment he might get.

In his volunteer application, he included information on his background as an announcer for the Dover Days parade. the Delaware TV quiz show “Texaco Star Academic Challenge” and more.

In years prior, professional announcers were used in the six parade booths along the route from the Capital to the White House. President Bush asked that each have a member of the military.

Mr. Skocik said he was lucky enough to be chosen as a backup. And then the primary pick opted out a few days before the event.

It wasn’t until the day prior that he realized where he would be working. Volunteers had to walk the parade route and Mr. Skocik was looking out for his assigned Booth No. 6.

“I said, ‘Oh my God, it’s the White House,” Mr. Skocik remembered Friday.

After going through Secret Service screening, Mr. Skocik met up with Mr. Brotman for the first time. They agreed to divide up the military and civilian units.

The president and his contingent made their way past the announcer’s stand, on a riser about 15 feet above the parade, and then made his way to a grandstand across from the announcers.

“It raises your heart beat to see the leader of the free world walk right in front of you,” said Mr. Skocik.

“The whole leadership of our country was listening to what Charlie and I were saying,” he said. “You had to keep it upbeat and keep it moving and show energy.”

***

It is inauguration week once again.

President-elect Trump will take the oath at noon Friday. The parade will follow the ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol.

As of Friday, no Delaware parade participants had been announced.

The U.S. Navy Honor Guard marches past President George W. Bush during the 2005 Presidential Inaugural Parade. The view was similar to the one Dave Skocik, of Dover, had as the parade announcer. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Delaware Gov.-elect John Carney and Lt. Gov.-elect Bethany Hall-Long will be sworn in on Tuesday in Dover.

The ceremony starts at 11 a.m.

With cooperative weather, he’ll be the first new governor since Ruth Ann Minner to return the tradition to a stage outside Legislative Hall.

Gov. Jack Markell’s first swearing-in ceremony was done in a midnight haste at the University of Delaware so he could get to Washington for the inauguration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in 2009.

(The traditional Delaware inauguration ceremonies were held at Legislative Hall a few days later.)

In 2013, inclement weather forced Gov. Markell’s inauguration into the spacious auditorium of Central Middle School in Dover.

Above, in 2005, then-Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, and then-Lt. Gov John Carney took the oath in frigid temps outside Legislative Hall in Dover, below.

In 2005, Ruth Ann Minner took the oath for her second term outside Legislative Hall. With the wind chill, the temperature felt like it was near zero.

The Milford Middle School band, when the valves weren’t sticking because of the cold on their instruments, played on.

John Carney was there, too, taking the oath as lieutenant governor for the second time.

And, he was taking the “heat” for the weather. The joke was that the lieutenant governor was responsible for the weather.

Gov. Minner deemed it “downright cold.” But she said she had been through colder inaugurals.

“I think we had an inauguration one year when it was sleeting and snowing and it was much colder,” she said that day. “At least this year the sun was shining to warm our spirits.”

Lt. Gov. John Carney played it off after Chief Justice Myron Steele administered the oath.

“I am not sure who is in charge of weather, but it sure is a beautiful day,” he said. “Maybe it’s a bit chilly.”

 

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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