News / USA

Inaugural Festivities Put the 'Party' into Political Parties

Inaugural Festivities Put the 'Party' Into Political Partiesi
X
January 19, 2013
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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid