Bloomberg Swears In With Homey Touches

Comfort food, flying toys, and clever tributes to the city filled the mayor's second inaugural ceremony.

The inauguration ceremony of Mayor Michael Bloomberg filled the outdoor plaza in front of City Hall and extended into the park. Orange, blue, and white—the colors of the New York City flag—decorated the stage.

The inaugural ceremony for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's second term had to be a bit of a departure from tradition. After all, this is the billionaire mayor who takes the 6 train—when it's running—to City Hall every day.

So homey touches—a nod to the everyman reputation the mayor strives for—permeated the event. After passing through the metal detectors and security checkpoints, guests got stainless steel travel mugs printed with the City of New York seal to fill with hot apple cider (made with Hudson Valley apples, no less), and gift bags that contained the event program and donuts. Saxophonists Catherine Castellanos and Jerel Witsell, students from the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Long Island City, played “New York, New York” to open the ceremony.

Deputy Mayor for Administration Patricia Harris oversaw the planning of the inauguration ceremony, which included the swearing in of Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, Comptroller William C. Thompson, and Bloomberg.

Matthew David Hopkins of Matthew David Events, who designed the ceremony's look, nixed the traditional red, white, and blue decor of most political ceremonies. “That was my big thing: it was a no-bunting event,” Hopkins said. He opted for blue, orange, and white—the colors of the City of New York's flag—and instead of bunting, used wide strips of blue and orange plastic Sintra panels to wrap the front of the stage. Blue velour drapes hung between the columns that adorn the front of City Hall, serving as backdrops for the five borough flags.

Ceremony guests—all 5,000 of them—sat on Party Time's white folding chairs, each set with thick gray army blankets to warm against the mid-winter chill. Two Jumbotrons from Impact Video with feed from All Mobile Video ensured that even if all audience members couldn't see the stage from their seats, they could still witness the action live on-screen. Bloomberg buddy Barbara Walters welcomed guests, and John Lithgow served as the event's M.C. (The mayor took in his performance in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on New Year's Eve.) The Abyssinian Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir sang the national anthem, and Paquito d'Rivera and Israeli jazz pianist Alon Yavnai performed “America the Beautiful.”

Another departure from tradition: Gotbaum, Thompson, and Bloomberg entered the ceremony by walking through the crowd instead of appearing from City Hall. “I was looking at it as a very special day of [Bloomberg] coming to work,” Hopkins said. “He's the mayor who takes the subway to work, so he should come from the people, then go into [City Hall] when the ceremony ends.” Each official was sworn in and addressed the crowd, then the indefatigable Liza Minnelli, dressed in a sassy crimson coat, closed the ceremony singing “New York, New York.”

“Throughout the entire process, our goal has been to combine inaugural traditions with a program that reflects the Mayor's personality and style,” Harris said. “This was reflected in every detail down to the placement of the flags to the blankets placed on every seat to keep the guests warm.”

For Bloomberg's post-ceremony reception 4,000 of the ceremony guests headed to the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, located across the street from the Tweed Courthouse on Chambers Street and used as city administrative offices. Blue cloth-covered bars skirted the edges of the room, and Hopkins dotted the massive space with cocktail tables covered with orange tablecloths and topped with old photographs of the city and urban planning maps. Photos of the Julian Opie art installations in City Hall Park wrapped glass vases filled with pretzels, plantain chips, and crudités.

R Cano Events served comfort food—a Bloomberg event signature—at the reception. “We consult the mayor on every.phpect of the event, and the food is perfect example,” Harris said. “Everything from the tomato soup and the assortment of mini sandwiches, including triangle grilled cheese, hot dogs, hamburgers, turkey and cranberry, and grilled vegetables, and snacks such as popcorn and pretzel snacks, reflect his personal tastes.” The bar offered Brooklyn Brewery beer and Wölffer Estate wines.

The Alex Lo Dico Ensemble played as guests mingled throughout the massive space. Two-hundred Hover Discs—Mylar balloons with rigid frames that allow them to stay aloft—floated throughout the space, where guests batted them around when they gently landed on the guests' heads.

Suzanne Ito

Photo: Courtesy of the Mayor's Office (City Hall)

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