TAKOMA PARK, MD (WUSA) -- Charlie Brotman's announced so many inaugural parades, a friend once had to remind him when he started.
He's been in the parade stand opposite the President since 1949. Barack Obama's second .... will be Charlie Brotman's 16th.
The one-time voice of the Washington Senators has been telling people for years that his first inaugural parade was Eisenhower's. It turns out he actually started with Truman's.
"It was the first inaugural parade to be on tv, and they needed some students. I was one of the students. Wow!" Brotman says, sitting in the Takoma Park basement he's loaded with photos, presidential seals, and the old benches from Griffith Stadium.
He says he really got started after he announced Eisenhower throwing out the first ball of the Senators' 1956 season. "Hi, this is the White House," someone told him on the phone.
He says he's never taken a dime from the inaugural committees of 11 different Presidents.
Brotman says the parades are often a reflection of the personalities of the President. "Eisenhower, military man, blah. Very conservative. Kennedy, gregarious, outgoing. He has a great, outgoing parade."
Then there was Jimmy Carter. "Carter, is not really an exciting guy. Nor was his parade."
Brotman says Reagan had both the best and worst parades. "Reagan moved Hollywood to Washington. And of his buddies and co-stars, and all his television. He brought everybody who was anybody to his parade.... His second was the worst, because there was no parade.
The temperature when organizers cancelled the parade on Jan. 21, 1985 was minus four degrees. "The musicians lips stuck to the trumpets."
America must have been tougher back in Kennedy's day "Plowing, shoveling, burning, whatever it takes. And that day, Pennsylvania Avenue was totally clear, and the whole rest of the city was snowed in. Correct, it does pay to be President."
Brotman has scripts and mementos going back decades. One of his most prized is the giant seal from under George W. Bush's reviewing stand. "When, it's over, the President leaves, and he left this behind."
And he says he'll keep announcing tell he's 115. "I started when I was three."
Brotman says from his stand, he can see much farther down the parade route than the President. The commander in chief ends up depending on Brotman to tell him when to stand and salute.
The former Washington Senators baseball announcer will turn 85 before his next parade.
SEE BRUCE LESHAN'S COMPLETE CONVERSATION WITH CHARLIE BROTMAN IN THE ATTACHED VIDEOS
Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan
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