Editor's Note: Liz, Megan and Molly Francomb are Shirley Otterman's granddaughters. The sisters mother, Peg Francomb, is a Toledo native and graduate of South Tama High School. Upon completion of college, Peg worked as a news reporter for The Toledo Chronicle.
(SPECIAL) When Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president today three girls with ties to Toledo will be there.
Liz, Molly and Megan Francomb.
Liz, Megan and Molly Francomb of Elizabeth, Ill., granddaughters of Shirley Otterman, Toledo, and daughters of Peg Francomb of Elizabeth, are members of the Dubuque-based Colts Drum & Bugle Corps, one of two units selected to represent the state of Iowa.
The drum corps was one of several marching units from across the state that submitted a formal application to the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee in mid-November. The organization received confirmation in early December that it had been selected as one of 100 groups chosen from a record 1,382 groups that applied. The Colts application was endorsed by several local, state and federal officials including Iowa Governor Chet Culver, who in 2007 named the Colts as "Iowa's Ambassadors of Music." Once the Colts received the invitation to perform a participation survey was issued to corps members and alumni. All marching members had to receive security clearance. About 120 members of the Colts and Colts' alumni will appear in the inaugural parade.
The Francomb sisters started their drum corps experience as members of the Colt Cadets: Liz playing trumpet, Megan in the percussion section and Molly in color guard.
Liz was first to earn a spot with the Colts in 2005. She plans to march again this summer, her final year as she "ages-out" from the corps. She is a junior at Western Illinois University majoring in fashion merchandizing with a minor in dance.
Megan auditioned for and earned a spot in the Colts cymbal line in 2007. She served as the cymbal section leader in 2008 and received the 2008 Outstanding Percussion Member award. Megan also auditioned for and received a spot in the Gateway indoor drumline at St. Louis, MO, for the 2008-09 season. She is a freshman at Illinois Wesleyan University majoring in Theater.
The three girls first marched together as Colts in 2008 when Molly earned a contract with the Colts color guard. Molly is a junior at River Ridge High School in Elizabeth.
Performing as a Colt takes a commitment of an entire summer. Audition and rehearsal camps begin in December, and the summer tour season begins Memorial Day weekend and continues through mid-.August. Members come from across the nation and overseas. The summer consists of rehearsals and performances that take the corps across the country. In 2007, Liz and Megan performed with the Colts at the Rose Bowl for the Drum Corps International world finals where the Colts finished in tenth place.
With Liz aging out, this will be the last year all will be together. Megan hopes to continue performing until she ages out as well. "I'd like to stay at least until Megan ages out," said Molly. "It is awesome to have my sisters there. And even without her sisters, she could see herself continuing in the Colts tradition.
"I've had the best time of my life in Colts," said Megan. "I've met the best friends I ever had there."
Liz agreed. "They are like family."
The December audition camp was cancelled due to weather conditions. That also changed some of the preparation plans for the inaugural parade. The corps had planned fit uniforms and practice music for the parade. Fittings for most members will now be done on the road and music has been distributed electronically. Full ensemble rehearsals for music, color guard work and the parade ensemble will not take place until the corps' arrival in Washington, DC, on Sunday night and Monday.
The corps has spent the last month preparing its performance and securing donations to make the trip a reality. The corps launched a $60,000 fund-raising campaign to help pay for the historic trip. Colts executive director Greg Orwoll has estimated it will cost the corps that much including travel expenses, meals, music, instruments, uniforms, flags and housing. Special guard uniforms were designed for event, along with special flags to be designed and sewn for parade. Specially arranged music was written, also.
The Colts Youth Organization sponsors five music programs that include members from across Iowa and the United States. Additional information about the Colts and the trip to the inauguration can be found on the corps' website at www.colts.org.