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Home News  D.C. SHOULD BE A BALL
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Wednesday, January 14,2009

D.C. SHOULD BE A BALL

by Kyle Melinn
If you’re heading to Washington next week, you’re not alone.

Thousands from Michigan and several hundred from Lansing will join the throngs from across the country for the inauguration of the country’s 44th president, Barack Obama. Tickets for the actual swearing-in ceremony are long, long gone.


U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, like every other member of Congress, had 198 tickets to give away to constituents. Rogers basically put the 1,000 or so requests he received into a hat and drew names.

Among those attending from the Lansing community include Melvin Jones, senior pastor of Union Missionary Baptist Church; Bishop Alfred Singleton of Bethlehem Temple Church; Capitol National Bank President Paula Cunningham and Michigan Bulletin General Manager Marcus Jefferson.

Those who did manage tickets will likely be watching the swearing-in on a jumbotron and hearing it over loudspeakers, anyway. The crowds will be herded into standing areas that stretch down the mall from the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol past the Smithsonian.

Members of Congress, Democratic National Committee members, governors and other dignitaries will be positioned closer to the stage at the west end of the U.S. Capitol.



“The demand was huge,” Rogers said. “We were getting a little nervous. We thought we’d get 10,000 requests. It ended up being closer to 1,000. We had Republicans who were interested in coming. We had Democrats who were interested in coming. Independents. People interested in government. We even had some embassy called trying to get tickets.


” By comparison, about three-quarters of this number asked for tickets to the President George W. Bush’s swearing-in, he said.


Shortly after the swearing-in, the 56th Inaugural parade will make its way down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House with groups across the country participating. Among those marching will be Michigan’s Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team and Color Guard led by Eaton County Sheriff Mike Raines.

The Michigan Inaugural Dinner Dance later Tuesday night is still on, after officials debated scrapping the affair out of concern that the gathering at
the National History Museum would appear too ritzy for a state so hard
on its luck economically. Instead, organizers bumped up the ticket
prices for this black-tie optional affair to $200 a piece and limited
the corporate sponsors to those not associated with the auto industry.

A
Dec. 10 list of pledged sponsors obtained by City Pulse shows $351,000
in pledged donations, but organizer Debbie Dingell said the final
amount ended up being less. Dingell said the $200 admission will pay
for about two-thirds of the cost, with corporate sponsors handling the
rest.


Cutting costs while maintaining a quality event was the key for
organizers like Dingell, who volunteered their time to put on the
event. Even the entertainment, Mell Ball and the Colours, the Simone
Vitale Band, the Henry Ford Big Band and the Jackson Black History Tour
Group are cutting their prices to make the event happen.

The
big donors will be Dow Chemical, Dow Corning and Dow Agro Sciences,
having pledged around $175,000 on Dec. 10. Dingell declined to disclose
final numbers. DTE Energy is kicking in $20,000. American
Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the American Trucking Association,
Bosch, CMS Energy, Jim Blanchard’s DLA Piper, Henry Ford Health System,
ITC Holdings and Kelly Services are in the $10,000 group.

Those
in the $5,000 range include Wayne State University Physicians Group,
ArvinMeritor, Clark Hill and the Michigan Health and Hospital
Association.

Tickets can still be purchased at 703- 288-8696 or online at Michigan@hayespr.com.


Don’t look for Obama at the “Michigan Ball.” He won’t be there. He
and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend 10 official balls — a Youth
Inaugural Ball, five regional balls and a ball for Obama’s home states
of Illinois and Hawaii. Vice President-elect Joe Biden will hold a ball
for his home states of Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Michigan
will be part of the Midwest Regional Presidential Inaugural Committee
Ball at the Convention Center, but the $150a-piece gala is invitation
only.


The free
public events start 2 p.m. Sunday with President-elect Obama hosting a
free “We are One” opening ceremony concert on the steps of the Lincoln
Memorial.

An hour earlier, at 1 p.m. at the Willard
Intercontinental Hotel an invite-only special reception is being held
in honor of Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Twp.
“Platinum” sponsors for this shindig include the Dykema law firm and
two members of the Stryker family, William Johnson and Ronda Stryker,
which helped the Democrats maintain control of the Michigan House of
Representatives.

Other sponsors include Jackson National Life;
the lobbying firm of Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates; the
Oxford Foundation; the Perricone Group; Wolverine Human Services, a
rehab company for delinquent youth; Advance America; Axcess Financial;
Wiener Associates; Knight Consulting; and Check Into Cash.


The first
major Michigan-themed free public event starts at 9 a.m. Monday, Martin
Luther King Day, at the Library of Congress, when the Michigan
congressional delegation, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Lt. Gov. John
Cherry host a pre-inaugural Michigan open house. Hot chocolate, coffee
and tea are being served in the Montpelier Room of the Library of
Congress for this bipartisan event.

The governor and
lieutenant governor also are hosting a Monday night invitationonly
get-together at the historic Old Ebbitt Grill near the Capitol for
business leaders, key Democratic sponsors, union officials and
education leaders. The event is paid for by the money left over from
the “Denver ’08” fund, a pot of money Michigan Democratic leaders put
together for last summer’s convention but didn’t exhaust.

The
Dykema law firm, Hancock Financial Services and the Michigan Health and
Hospital Association are rolling out the red carpet the morning of the
Inaugural for Dykema personnel, invitees, public officials and other
sponsors for an 11:30 a.m. brunch. Granholm and Cherry are listed as
hosts of this one, as well.


— Kyle Melinn

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