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$40 Million Inaugurals Take Over Washington

Amid the controversy about whether or not elaborate inaugural festivities were appropriate in wartime—and despite thousands of protesters—nine official galas went forward at the cost of $40 million on George W. Bush’s second inauguration day last week.

Among the party themes were black tie and boots, stars and stripes, and “saluting those who serve,” a tribute to medal-winning troops. Singer Macy Gray performed at Creative Coalition’s “Ball After the Ball” at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center—where 1,000 guests paid from $1,000 to $50,000 a ticket, The Washington Post reported. At the inaugural luncheon earlier in the day, guests dined on scalloped crab and lobster, roasted Missouri quail, chestnuts, brined root vegetables, steamed lemon pudding, and apple wild cherry compote. And the evening before, Fireworks by Grucci—producers of inaugural fireworks displays since 1981—produced the fireworks for the “Celebration of Freedom” event at the Ellipse.

The New York Times—along with many major news outlets reporting on the celebrations—took its turn criticizing the day’s event style elements: “At the balls the Bush daughters…were suitably attired for a movie premiere, even though the events, with backdrops where couples could pose for portraits in front of the inaugural seal and a sprig of carnations, more closely resembled a prom.”
Posted 01.26.05