For the first time since 1957, a new voice will lead the presidential inaugural parade. Steve Ray will be replacing 89-year-old Charlie Brotman, who led the inaugural ceremonies in Washington, D.C. for sixty years.
The switch doesn’t come without controversy, with some saying 58-year-old Ray was given the position because of his support of President-elect Donald Trump. Ray joined FOX 5 in studio to talk about the change and his new inaugural role.
HOW DID HE GET THE JOB?
"Anybody who thinks that this is one of those political favors -- it's really a volunteer position," Ray said. "Charlie has never been paid for it - I won't be paid for it."
Ray says he was approached about the opportunity by an inaugural staff member who was familiar with his promotional voice work for the Washington Nationals. He says that the choice to hire him came after it was already decided to modernize and streamline the flow of the parade.
"It's funny that people think that I am a huge Trump supporter - that I bought my way into this gig," Ray told us while showing us his 'Trump Supporter' card. "The minimum you could donate to get one of these little gold Trump cards was $35."
"Quite frankly," he said, "if I could have paid $35 to get the president's announcer's gig – I'll give you $100 to sit next to the first family!"
The real reason he was offered the job, Ray says, was because of his background. "I'm qualified to do it; I handle live event production as well; and they were looking for a way to freshen-up the presentation. It has nothing to do with politics."
"It’s an apolitical, nonpartisan position," he said, adding that the hiring just so happens to come up through the ranks of the presidential inauguration committee.
"Charlie knows how I feel about him," Ray said. He called Brotman a friend and said the two have exchanged emails following the decisions. "I don’t think there is the type of friction or negativity that's being portrayed by some media outlets."
"You can’t think of D.C. without thinking of Charlie Brotman!" he continued, saying that Brotman is a legend who holds a special place in his heart.