Darlin#039;s have a day to remember

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 25, 2003

Early Monday morning, the Troy State University Dixie Darlin's loaded up and headed out for what will be a most memorable day in their young lives.

The Dixie Darlin's had been invited be a part of the Inaugural Parade and it was difficult for them to hide their excitement.

It was no fluke that the Dixie Darlin's were asked to clog-clog-clog their way to the Capital City affair.

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&uot;At homecoming at Troy State this year, we were at the tailgate area and Mr. Bob Riley, who was running for governor and Ms. Kay Ivey who was running for state treasurer were at the Gibson & Carden tent,&uot; said Alex Ingram. &uot;I remember Ms. Kay real well because she had on a straw hat with ivy wrapped all around it. Dr. Jack Hawkins (chancellor of the Troy State University System) and Mrs. Hawkins were there, too. And it was raining really hard.&uot;

Randy Jinks, the opening singer for the band &uot;Alabama,&uot; took the stage near where the Dixie Darlin's were tailgating and sang several Riley Country songs.

&uot;We danced in the pouring down rain and on a stage that was soaking wet,&uot; Alex said. &uot;After we performed Mr. Riley was so nice. He came over and talked to each one of us and he said he wanted us to be in his inaugural parade and we told him that we would.&uot;

The Dixie Darlin's were thrilled to have an opportunity dance before such distinguished company.

&uot;We had on our outfits that we wore when we performed a Disney World,&uot; Alex said. &uot;We had on white pants but they had red mud all over them, but it was a day that we will never forget.&uot;

Little did the Dixie Darlin's know that the wonderful day would lead to another even more wonderful day.

As Riley has requested, the Dixie Darlin's were in the 2003 Inaugural Parade.

&uot;We were on the float with the Troy State University band,&uot; Alex said. &uot;That was unbelievable. We love being able to do things with them. Shelley Edwards and Celeste Sanders, two of the original Dixie Darlin's, were on the float with us. Both of them helped us with our dances. We loved riding in the parade. It was so exciting to see people that we knew. We waved at them and they waved back at us. We were amazed looking at all of the people there and at how many people were on top of buildings watching the parade.&uot;

Inauguration Day was a long, but exciting day for the Dixie Darlin's. They were in Montgomery early to see Bob Riley become Gov. Bob Riley.

&uot;We saw the jet fly over and heard the 21-gun salute - it was really a cannon, but I think they called it a 21-gun salute,&uot; Alex said. &uot;Alabama sang 'My Home's in Alabama' and that was great.&uot;

The Dixie Darlin's were on the front lawn of the capitol, waiting for the inauguration ceremony to begin when they were approached by a television reporter.

&uot;They talked to us and we did a few clogging steps for them,&uot; Alex said. &uot;They asked us how we got to be in the parade and what it meant to us to be a part of the inauguration. We said it was an honor to be a part of such a great event and see the new governor take office.&uot;

After the parade, the Dixie Darlin's got in line to shake hands with Gov. Riley and the First Lady.

&uot;He looked over at us and said, 'There are my darlin's' and told all the people around him how we danced for him in the pouring rain. We got our picture taken with Gov. Riley by a professional photographer. We can't wait to get it back. It is something we will treasure forever.&uot;

The Dixie Darlin's all got hugs from the First Lady, who was dressed as they were, all in blue.

&uot;She told us that we all looked good in all this blue,&uot; Alex said. &uot;It was an amazing day and we always remember what a wonderful time we had.&uot;