BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Donald Lora commanded an audience five years ago, when the 90-yr old former Chorale Director at Bakersfield High School belted out the National Anthem, that echoed through the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. The only sound coming as he finished, when he was met with a thunderous applause.
Cell phone video of the performance made the rounds on the internet. Lora credits his selection as the Grand Marshall of the 23ABC Bakersfield Christmas Parade on that video, and his former students he believes led the push to have him lead the annual parade.
You might say his singing career began in the Army. Lora was drafted during the Korean War and sent with a small unit to Clark Air Force Base in the Phillipines. "We were responsible for making sure everyone headed to Korea had everything they needed," said Lora, "and on the way home, that they were taken care of, the responsibility was ours."
But when he had time to himself, Lora returned to his musical roots, volunteering to lead the Chapel choir on the base. When his service ended, he was lured to Bakersfield during summer school classes at U.S.C. "A job came up and my professor said I should go check it out," said Lora, "the day I went up it was 111 degrees, but the job offered and opportunity and a challenge."
And it turned into a career. Lora spent 20 years as the director at B.H.S. and now, finally some say, as the Grand Marshall of the Christmas Parade. "The Lord has blessed me, and I'm still peeking at 90!" With plenty of encorse still to come.