A parade, a ball and handshaking galore
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A parade, a ball and handshaking galore

Date: January 12, 2009
By: Emily Coleman
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - While the highlight of Missouri's inauguration day was the governor's inaugural address, but most of the day was spent on celebrations and festivities.

While the show started with a parade that led the officials and other participants from the Missouri River Regional Library to the Capitol, it ended with the Inaugural Ball where officials, state workers and others mingled over alcohol and hors d'oeuvres.

Gov. Jay Nixon stole the show for most of the events throughout the day.  However, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Treasurer-elect Clint Zweifel, State Auditor Susan Montee, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, Attorney General-elect Chris Koster and Speaker of the House Ron Richard participated in the parade and were introduced in the Grand March.

In two red cars, Gov.-elect Nixon and his wife, Georganne, followed by their two sons were driven up to the Capitol steps.  Each newly elected official with their families were accompanied by high school bands from across the state, followed by a few other government officials.  Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and Attorney General Chris Koster walked the walked the route.

High school bands from across the state marched in the parade as well.

One mother came out to see her son who marched with the Jefferson City High School band.

"My son's in the Jeff City band, and it's freezing so we're not staying for the inauguration," Celeste Ambrosius said.  "It's just exciting to be a part.  I mean it's history in the making so it's always cool to be down here."

Following the swearing-in ceremony and a first meeting in the governor's office, Nixon greeted the public at the governor's mansion.

Dressed in period clothing from the 1870s, docents, who serve as tour guides for the mansion, guided people inside.  While listening to the live pianist, the attendees were able to meet the new governor and his family.

Attendees tended to be either supporters of Nixon or worked in the political field.

Two women traveled almost four hours from Neosho, which is south of Joplin.

"We're frozen but happy," Mary Frencken said.

"We wouldn't have come up here if we weren't so happy," Sharon Eidson said.

Helen Jobe has been a docent for about 10 years and has volunteered at four inaugurations.

"I have been here through both Republicans and Democrats, and I've enjoyed them all," Jobe said. "The first ladies are wonderful to work with."

The Inaugural Potluck Dinner featured hot dogs, hamburgers, salads and dessert, of which, the cake displayed a sign to assure attendees that it was not paid for with taxpayer dollars.  The food ran out before the arrival of the Nixons much to Nixon's chagrin, he said.

The entertainment varied from the Jefferson City High School Choir to the Johnson Caney Bluegrass Band.

"I've known Jay for a while, and we grew up together in the same town," Al Luebbers said. "I think it's a little bit of his DeSoto roots coming through, this potluck thing."

The potluck giving and taking theme continued through Nixon's short speech in the Capitol Plaza Hotel lobby.

"So as we embark on these next four years, I hope the fun that we're having today is emblematic of that fact that each and everyone of us is going to keep a smile on our face, each and everyone of us is going to bring something to help other people, and each and everyone of us is going to be responsible for ourselves when it comes to dinnertime."

The day rounded out with the Grand March and Inaugural Ball in the State Capitol where liquor flowed freely in the offices of many elected officials.

Most of the Capitol was open for the public to wander around.  Many offices of elected officials offered food and beverage to their visitors.  Only the hallway outside of the governor's office was cordoned off.

"It's a real mixture of people.  You get to see people you already know, old friends maybe you haven't seen for years, other elected officials will stop by and their staff will stop by," said Joe Martin, State Auditor Susan Montee's chief of staff.  "It's a good opportunity to see people from a wide spectrum of sources."