by Jessica Gresko, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The hair was the giveaway.
The man in the black coat, white shirt and red tie who raised his right hand as if to take the oath of the nation’s highest office on Sunday sported a military trim.
And that was just one way to tell that Greg Lowery, a 53-year-old vocalist in the U.S. Army band, was no Donald Trump, and Sunday’s inauguration rehearsal at the U.S. Capitol wasn’t the real thing.
But the sergeant major was a game stand-in for the soon-to-be 45th president as were other band members given prominent roles. The goal was to practice Inauguration Day events so everything goes off as flawlessly — and on time — as possible for the actual swearing-in on Friday.
Lowery, who said his role was to “look the part as much as possible,” said the substitutes were chosen primarily because they are as tall as the people they were playing. He bought a new, red tie for the assignment, though he acknowledged it wasn’t Trump brand.
“It’s just a real honor for all of us to be here this morning,” Lowery said.
Spc. Sara Corry, who arranges music for the band, wore a white peacoat and nude pumps to stand in for Trump’s wife, Melania. Corry, 28, said her shoes were new, and while Melania Trump’s fashion choices will be a topic of conversation, Corry didn’t know what designer she was wearing. Unlike Melania Trump, a native of Slovenia, Corry said she’s from Capistrano Beach, California. Her husband-for-the-day, Lowery, has two sons, unlike Trump who has five children.
The faux first couple was joined by Master Sgt. Neil Ewachiw, 47, and Master Sgt. Leigh Ann Hinton, 50, band vocalists who were standing in for Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his wife, Karen.
During Sunday’s dry run, the stand-in president-elect and vice president-elect waved to rows of empty chairs and raised their hands as if they were being sworn in. They spent some time adjusting their positions so that cameras set to capture the real swearings-in could get the best angle, and then workers marked the spots for the actual players.
Around them, the Capitol was still being readied for Inauguration Day. Workers unfurled a large flag between a pair of the Capitol’s columns. Some red, white and blue bunting remained draped in plastic to protect it, and the sound of sawing and hammering could be heard intermittently during gaps in the patriotic music.
Not everyone participating in the pageant needed to be a good match for the person they were playing, with men playing women and women playing men. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who will swear in Pence and became the court’s second African-American member when he joined the court in 1991, was played Sunday by a woman with long, blonde hair.
One closer match for his counterpart was 12-year-old Charlie Blunt, the son of Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who was drafted to play Trump’s 10-year-old son Barron. Asked after the rehearsal whether he had any pointers for Barron, Charlie said: “just smile and don’t slouch.”
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