MIDDLESEX TWP — A Middlesex Township woman and her daughter played behind-the-scenes roles in the Inaugural Parade.
Barbara Reuning and her daughter were among the volunteers helping to groom and move the 130 horses that were used in the Jan. 21 event.
“My daughter Katherine Reuning lives in Washington, D.C., and she knows the man who was in charge of the horses in the parade. He needed some volunteers,” said Barbara Reuning.
Katherine Reuning, a 2006 Mars High School graduate, has been living in the nation's capital since her graduation from West Virginia's Bethany College in 2010.
“I knew Willie Brosnan,” said Katherine. Brosnan was the horse assembly coordinator for the presidential inaugural parade.
“I met him through good friends who live in the same building as me,” said the younger Reuning. “I said, 'Do you need more volunteers? My mom would absolutely love this and so would I. We have both ridden for awhile.'”
Once they cleared a Secret Service background check, the Reunings joined 3,000 other parade volunteers for an orientation session Jan. 17 at the Washington Convention Center.
Then, around 8 a.m. the day of the parade with temperatures in the mid-30s, Barbara Reuning said, they went to L'Enfant Plaza, which was the receiving area for the parade's horse units, with five other volunteers picked to help with the horses as the animals were unloaded from trailers.
“There were several groups,” said Barbara Reuning. “There was the Old Guard from the Arlington National Cemetery, a mounted police drill team and color guard team from Michigan.
“There was a group called At Ease for veterans and the Black Horse Troop from the Culver Academy in the Midwest,” she said.
“Each horse had a rider. It wasn't like we had to physically care for the horses,” she said. “We were helping groom and tack and organizing.
“When the horses were unloaded, there was a lot of activity,” said Barbara Reuning.
“We helped them tack, groom and get ready,” said Katherine Reuning. “They had to wait in line for security to make sure the horse and rider were cleared for the parade.”
“Each horse and rider had to go through security,” said Barbara Reuning. “Once they were saddled, they physically inspected the horses.
“My daughter and I had to get credentialed to be behind the scenes. We wore badges,” Barbara Reuning said.
After security, Barbara Reuning said, the volunteers helped walk horses from the arrival area a half mile to the staging area.
“It was quite a wait for everybody until it was time for them to go into the parade,” she said.
Katherine Reuning said, “We helped them throughout the day. Once mounted near the Capitol area at the start of the parade, we helped them with their horse if a rider had to go eat or go to a warming tent or to the bathroom.”
The five-mile parade began at the steps of the Capitol and ran along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
Barbara Reuning said the parade was supposed to start at 2:30 p.m. but didn't get started until nearly an hour later. By the time the last of the horses had left the staging area, it was nearly 5:30 p.m.
“It was a wonderful experience,” said Barbara Reuning. “It was exciting to talk to the people who were going to be in the parade. It was fun sharing in their excitement.
“My favorite part was seeing the caisson horses and talking to their riders from the Old Guard about the service they provide for military funerals,” said Barbara Reuning. “They do eight of them a day at Arlington National Cemetery.”
Even though she didn't get to see any of the parade herself, Katherine Reuning also said she enjoyed working behind the scenes.
“It was an awesome experience,” she said.