Chicago’s South Shore Drill Team was recently notified that they were one of twenty-four groups selected nation-wide to perform in President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade on January 21st, 2013 in Washington D.C. The team was one of over 2,800 to apply for the honor, and will send 54 of its senior members to the nation’s capital to represent the City of Chicago.
The team, founded in 1980 by former Chicago Public School teacher Arthur Robertson, is a nonprofit organization aimed at keeping inner-city youth off the streets and away from the dangers of drugs and gang violence. The organization also emphasizes education, which was reflected last spring when it boasted a 100 percent high school graduation rate. While most of the Drill Team’s members reside in an area bordered by Cermak Road, Western Avenue, and 115th Street, the group contains members from more than 36 different zip codes throughout the Chicagoland area. There are no tryouts, and no previous skills are necessary. All those with a willingness and desire to learn are encouraged to join! Currently, the drill team is comprised of nearly 300 young men and women between ages 8-21.
The South Shore Drill Team performs at over 120 parades and special events across the country every year, with an audience of over 2.5 million and approximately 25 million more viewers via television. Four years ago, the team failed to make the cut during the extensive application process to perform in the inaugural parade. This time around, the team was selected after displaying its elevated national profile, including a performance for First Lady Michelle Obama and foreign officials at last year’s NATO Summit, as well as being the subject of a PBS documentary.
Currently, the drill team is focused on raising $45,000 to cover the costs of the trip to Washington. There will be a live remote broadcast from the Gary Comer Youth Center: Home of the South Shore Drill Team this Saturday, January 12th from 4-6pm, where the public can watch the group practice for the inauguration parade. People can donate curbside, online at www.southshoredrillteam.org, or mail checks payable to South Shore Drill Team to 7218 S. South Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60619. All gifts will be tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.