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Black Tie & Boots gala to be Bush's Texas-sized victory party

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President-elect George W. Bush will be the guest of honor at Friday night's Black Tie & Boots inaugural gala, a Texas-sized affair that is sure to be one of the rowdiest events of the season.

Hutchison
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison  

"It's a victory party for our president that he never did get on election night," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the junior Republican senator from Texas. Hutchison is the host of the event, which is sponsored by the Texas State Society.

The gala is not one of the "official" inaugural balls -- those will take place Saturday night after Bush is sworn in as the 43rd president. But Hutchison told CNN she anticipated a "rowdy and outrageous" affair, saying that "no one will leave here without having a good time."

As of Friday morning, event organizers were swarming over Washington's Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, putting on finishing touches as the evening's performers were doing their last-minute rehearsals.

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CNN's Eileen O'Connor reports on the advent of Texan boots on Capitol Hill

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The gala will be a Lone Star-studded affair -- Lyle Lovett, Asleep at the Wheel, local Austin band Duck Soup, gospel singer Lee Greenwood, Tanya Tucker, the Texas Two Bits (singing, pint-sized twin girls) are slated to perform, among others that include the Kilgore Rangerettes and the Katha Black Dancers.

And that's just what's on the schedule.

Once Bush -- a two-term Texas governor, part owner of the Texas rangers, former Midland oilman and son of the most recent president from Texas -- was declared the winner of the protracted presidential election, Black Tie & Boots ballooned from just another unofficial ball to a party where once and future Texans could celebrate one of their own.

Lone Star state entertainers soon began begging event organizers to let them perform. Brooks and Dunn called, and although they hail from California, The Beach Boys reportedly scored a last-minute gig.

Tickets began going for thousands of dollars on the eBay auction site, and the event grew from 6,000 to a seams-bursting 10,000. Even media access was restricted -- to assure the size of the crowd would not violate fire standards, officials said.

Tamales and two-stepping

Virtually every public space in the hotel will be transformed into a little bit of Texas. Each room has a theme harkening to the vast geography of the Lone Star State: the Texas Fair, (including a live steer, a roadrunner, a hawk, an armadillo and an alligator); the Lone Star Sports Bar, the Hondo Honky Tonk, the Cotulla Cantina, the Muleshoe Cigar & Martini Bar, the Spindletop Disco, the La Villita Club and the Luckenbach Java Lounge.

Some 2.5 tons of beef brisket and 20,000 pounds of shrimp will be served in the hotel's main ballroom, which is decorated with dangling silver stars and cowboy figures.

And, true to its name, many of the attendees at will be wearing cowboy boots. For her part, Hutchison will be wearing custom made cowboy boots with her crimson Oscar de la Renta gown. "They match my gown perfectly," she said.

"There will be a lot of people tonight with beat up, real cowboy boots too," she added. "Most of the men are going to wear cowboy boots, and some of the ladies -- I'll bet we'll see some boots on them too."

The last time the Bush family attended a similar event was in 1989, to celebrate the impending inauguration of the president-elect's father, George H.W. Bush. The president-elect is slated to make an appearance at the event about 9 p.m. EST. Before that he and wife Laura will attend a private Wyoming State Society event honoring Vice President-elect Dick Cheney.


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Friday, January 19, 2001

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