Originally created 01/21/05

Augustans perform, brave cold in Washington

Augusta native Felicia Burton woke up at 4 a.m. Thursday to beat the notorious traffic of Washington, D.C.

And that was perfectly fine with her.

Ms. Burton and 47 other members of the Alcorn State University Concert Choir didn't want to be late to perform at the festivities of President Bush's second inauguration.

"I was nervous, but at the same time I was excited," said Ms. Burton, an 18-year-old Alcorn freshman and choir soprano. "We did really well. I was really happy with our performance."

Ms. Burton, a 2004 graduate of Butler High School and a member of Creative Impressions, an Augusta performing arts group, said the choir sang three songs for the thousands gathered.

In addition to sightseeing and performing, Ms. Burton saw President Bush, former President Clinton and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"We saw a lot of important people," she said.

Ms. Burton wasn't the only Augustan attending the inauguration.

The Rev. Chuck Hunt and his wife, Alice, have received invitations to five previous presidential inaugurations.

Frigid temperatures couldn't keep them from attending their sixth.

"The weather was fairly cold," said the Rev. Hunt, 76. "I was concerned about it."

He had good reason to be worried.

On March 4, 1841, his distant relative, President William Henry Harrison, insisted on riding a horse down Pennsylvania Avenue to his inauguration ceremony, the Rev. Hunt said.

Mr. Harrison gave the longest inauguration speech in presidential history, he said.

But while speaking in the frigid weather, he caught a cold and died 31 days later from pneumonia.

President Bush's speech didn't last as long as Harrison's, but it was the Rev. Hunt's favorite part of the ceremony.

"He gave a clear vision of what we're up to this coming four years," the Rev. Hunt said.

The Rev. Hunt, a Richmond County Republican voting precinct chairman, and Mrs. Hunt, 73, stayed with their granddaughter, Lydia Morgan, who works in the Capitol Hill office of U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona.

The Hunts toured the White House and the U.S. Capitol building and had breakfast with Mr. Flake and his wife, he said.

But above all, the Rev. Hunt said he was struck by the friendliness of lawmakers and Washington residents.

"We loved it," he said. "We really did. Everybody has been so nice."

Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or kate.lewis@augustachronicle.com.


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