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Let the parties begin

Bush inauguration promises
to 'celebrate America's spirit'

story.capitol.inaug.jpg
Spectators line the streets every four years during the inauguration for the president's traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue  

January 9, 2001
Web posted at: 3:43 PM EST (2043 GMT)


RELATED STORIES, SITES icon





WASHINGTON (CNNfyi) -- Inaugurals used to be no more than a swearing-in, a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and a White House "open house." But times have changed, as evidenced by the makeover the city of Washington is undergoing before January 20.

Ever since John F. Kennedy revolutionized inaugurations by holding five formal balls the night he became president in 1961, the official swearing-in ceremony has become the crown jewel of many gems in the Capitol crown.

"This inauguration will not only be a celebration of the beginning of the new presidency, but of our American system of government, our people and our spirit," said 2001 Inaugural Director Jeanne Johnson Phillips.

The theme of this year's events, according to the Inaugural Committee, is "Celebrating America's Spirit Together."

 ALSO
View the inauguration schedule
 

This year's activities begin two days before the swearing-in, with a January 18 kickoff event at the Lincoln Memorial. Three candlelight dinners later that evening, at a price of $2,500 per meal, will serve as fund-raisers for the weekend's inaugural events.

Those unable to fork over big bucks for dinner can celebrate America's spirit in several ways January 19. The first lady-to-be, Laura Bush, will celebrate America's authors in a ceremony that Friday, while Vice President-elect Dick Cheney will honor America's veterans. Both events will be free to the public.

Young people can join the festivities by attending a concert Friday night at the MCI Center, a downtown Washington arena. Tickets to this concert, dedicated to America's youth, will cost $5.

The grand finale will come January 20 -- just as it has every inauguration since Franklin D. Roosevelt began his second term in 1937. Before then, presidents began their terms March 4.

George W. Bush will start the morning by taking the oath of office at the U.S. Capitol. Workers are piecing together the platforms in which the president and his entourage will stand during the ceremony.

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The presidential limo pauses in front of spectators during an inauguration  

After the swearing-in ceremony, Bush will follow in his father's footsteps and parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. The parade is part of a long tradition and usually kicks off the White House "open house," when the public is invited inside the mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Bush family will actually open the White House to the public that Sunday.

The celebration Saturday continues late into the evening with eight official inaugural balls spread out all over Washington. Lisa Wernick, deputy executive director of the College Republican National Committee, said none of these are Republican-sponsored or operated events.

"That is a really big deal -- that's what everyone is talking about," Wernick said, calling the nonpartisan events a conscious decision on Bush's part to include all political parties and groups in the inauguration.

The official balls are only the beginning of the nighttime festivities. There will be plenty of "unofficial" parties in the city, most sponsored by lobbying groups and corporations.

The 2001 Presidential Inaugural Committee has set up a Web site, www.inauguration-2001.org, for those interested in learning more about and possibly taking part in this year's events.



RELATED STORIES:
Poll: Bush enjoying a traditional 'honeymoon'
January 8, 2001
Clinton says thank-you to his church community
January 7, 2001
Congress confirms Bush electoral victory
January 6, 2001

RELATED SITES:
Bush-Cheney transition
Presidential Inaugural Committee 2001
Washington, D.C.

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