Tara Picciano and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend the Inaugural Ball, capping off a day, and an entire trip, that we will never forget.
There were only two official balls this year, both at the Convention Center. One was the Military Ball and the other the Commander In Chief's Inaugural Ball. Our tickets came from Jane Lang, for which we are eternally grateful. I'm sure she has her own special memories from a tour of the White House on Tuesday!
So, about the Ball. The dresses, tuxedos, the hair and jewelry - absolutely incredible! Literally thousands of attendees all decked out. Initial info was 30,000 people (4 or 5000 at the Military Ball). The main ball was really two balls happening at once, on two levels - your ticket (green or blue) directed you to the upstairs or downstairs rooms. If you saw parts of the ball on TV, you saw the upstairs ball - decidedly the fancier version. That being said, downstairs was quite a sight to behold. There was a long stage with a band area on each end and a center section with a piano.
This level included three halls open into one big room. As Tara and I entered we decided to check out the stage area first although the music was by DJ at the time -no one was on stage. We made it to the front corner of the right-hand stage, about 15 feet from the stage, just in time for the show to start. First was a presentation of the colors (flags) by the Military Color Guard at the center stage - and then Alecia Keyes played her recent hit, reworded to "Obama's on Fire". That was a huge hit with the crowd.
Mana, the Mexican rock band, played next on the left-hand stage, followed by Brad Paisely on the stage in front of us. Then Fun. played on the left-hand stage (that made my kids jealous!)... and then the First Couple came out for their dance, serenaded by Jennifer Hudson on the center stage. They looked very dignified but happy, relaxed and in love. It was a beautiful rendition of "Let's Stay Together" by Hudson.
By this time most of the guests were by the stage area. It was fun to get dressed up and be a part of the festivities - but after standing for quite some time, my feet were ready for a break. Since we had seen the First Couple's dance we decided that we could give up our spot at the front to walk around a bit... except that by our calculations the next performance would be on the stage on our side. So, we told our our toes to, "get over it" and stuck it out as the band continued to set up. Luckily we did, because none other than Stevie Wonder came out to play several songs and chat up the crowd - right in front of us!
We decided to walk around at that point, really appreciating our original vantage point as we made our way to the back of the crowd. We were still in the hall when Vice President and Dr. Biden had their dance, serenaded by Jamie Foxx singing "I Can't Stop Loving You". There were plenty of large screens providing everyone in the hall with a good view.
We went upstairs for our Inaugural Ball photo (attached) and then made our way to the coat check - with a short unintended detour to the 'upstairs' ball due to an elevator mix-up. From the foyer we could see Usher on-stage, so we stayed there for a bit to take it all in.
Finally, it was time to retrieve our coats - along with thousands of others, so it took a little while. By the time we were on our way, we were beat! Luckily Tara's eyes were still alert, because recognized Lady Gaga sighting outside the convention center. She was so close we could have chatted, but she was rather animated on her phone, something about being freezing and wanting a ride home. That we could agree with! We finally found the Metro and made it safely back to the hotel.
Overall, it was a remarkable trip. It was incredible to witness the pomp and circumstance of a Presidential Inauguration in historic Washington DC. Many thanks to Senator Shaheen for tickets to the Capital lawn to view the event. Of course, being supporters of President Obama made it all the more special as we joined the festivities surrounding his re-election and the beginning of his second term. The trip was hectic at times, involved crowded trains and sidewalks and lots of standing, but I would recommend attending an inauguration to anyone interested in our Nation's history and government. Just the city itself is reason enough for a trip and I highly recommend the Smithsonian Segway tour as a way to see it all. I look forward to a trip back to spend more time at the museums and sights with my family.
One of my entries didn't make the blog (it was sent from my phone) but was published as an item on Windham Patch. If you missed the short post and photos you can see them here.