News / USA

Inaugural Festivities Put the 'Party' into Political Parties

Inaugural Festivities Put the 'Party' Into Political Partiesi
X
January 19, 2013 10:08 PM
Every four years, Washington shows it's a city that knows how to celebrate. The presidential inauguration is a political event, but it's also one of the most festive times in the nation's capital - and just about everyone can join in the fun. VOA's Suzanne Presto reports from the Sister Cities International Inaugural Gala in Washington.
Suzanne Presto
Every four years, Washington shows it's a city that knows how to celebrate.  That's because around inauguration time, the term "political party" takes on a different meaning.

People come from across the country to take part in inaugural festivities, including Burga Santiago of California, who is visiting Washington for the first time. She and her daughters have donned full-length formal dresses, and they're ready to attend the first ball of the inauguration weekend.  

"You really feel like this is a seat of power," says Santiago, who enjoyed sightseeing in Washington ahead of the ball. "It's not just a seat of power for the United States, but it's a real global seat of power."

But you don't have to be a power player to enjoy the city.  Anyone can buy tickets to inaugural festivities such as the Sister Cities International Inaugural Gala, a celebration with a diverse crowd.  Men in tuxedos and women in gowns and high-heeled shoes enjoy the live music, dancing, cocktails and plentiful appetizers in the grand International Hall of Flags at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, near the White House.  

"Oh my gosh!  We've got ambassadors.  We have the whole diplomatic corps.  We have mayors from across the United States, everyday citizens, citizen diplomats," says Mae Ferguson, one of the organizers.  "It's bringing people from all over the world together, which is what Sister Cities is all about."

Among the guests is Nuno Brito, Portugal's ambassador to the United States.

"We think it's a good way to promote dialogue and to promote knowledge among countries, and that's why I'm here tonight," said the diplomat.

Just as the Sister Cities gala brings people together, the organization links people in the U.S. and overseas to promote cultural exchanges and understanding.  The U.S. president has served as the organization's honorary chair since Sister Cities was founded in 1956.  

"Every president has always been the honorary chair, which is very unusual," says Mary Kane, the president and CEO of Sister Cities International.  "So we're celebrating President Barack Obama's second term being our honorary chair."  

Party affiliation is irrelevant here.

"If you're a Democrat or a Republican, the president is our honorary chair," notes Ferguson.  "We're just thrilled to be here honoring him."

As for gala attendee Santiago, she is hooked.

"I know I will be here again," she says, as the music of the Mood Swings Big Band nearly drowns out her words.  "Oh yeah, I will not miss out on it."

The Sister Cities International Inaugural Gala is just one of dozens of unofficial parties and galas on inauguration weekend. The two official inaugural balls will cap off the festivities Monday night.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid