My wife and I attended President Trump’s Inaugural. We had a great time. It is not all about pomp and circumstance. A big part of such an event is sharing an historic occasion with friends and people of similar views.
To that point, there were many people from Brooklyn and Staten Island who were invited to witness the swearing in, enjoy the parade and attend one or more of several balls.
Of course, Congressman Donovan was the reason many of us were invited to the actual ceremony at the Capitol. Congress oversees the actual ceremony and most of the invites.
He had a limited number of tickets and literally a thousand requests that at first, he thought he would be unable to fill. In order to cover many of these requests, the Republican-Conservative reached out to many of his colleagues in the city who as Democrats were not getting as many requests. They generously provided him with additional tickets and he still fell short.
Janet and I were fortunate enough to receive two seated tickets. The two main seated sections had maybe 3,000 or 4,000 seats each with proximity to the platform being first come, first served, and the gates for the noon event opening at 6:30 a.m.
It was like Times Square on New Year’s Eve; if you wanted to get close, you needed to arrive early, in this case, to be at your seats by 7:30 a.m.
Getting to your seats required passing through three ticket checkpoints and then a final checkpoint which was manned by the Secret Service, together with the TSA, and involved a metal detector, bag check and an individual check with a hand-held wand. The list of items you could not bring beyond this point went on for forever. Many must have not read it since there were literally piles of items that were left behind.
Our group, which included Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and Staten Island Party Leader Angela Olsen, arrived at our seats around 9:45 a.m. and frankly, as a result, we were quite a bit from the front, but very pleased to have seats. And unlike many who had television platforms blocking their view, we had a clear view of all the activity on the platform.
The main U.S. Marine Corps Band played what was described as a prelude but was really a concert as we waited for introductions. The introductions were scattered at first and involved everyone from the architect of the Capitol to the members of the Inaugural Committee.
And then, the Congress as a group took its seats, followed by the governors and then the new Cabinet followed by the U.S. Supreme Court. There was a build-up with former presidents and their wives introduced in the order of their service.
Each had an impressive congressional escort. And then “Hail to the Chief” was played as an introduction to outgoing President and Mrs. Obama. Next, of course, the incoming president, vice president and their wives were introduced.
Things from this point on were moving fast. At around 11:30 a.m., the three invocations led by Cardinal Dolan were followed by the Missouri State University Chorale with music that was followed by Vice President Pence being sworn in by Justice Thomas.
Next came the Mormon Tabernacle Choir which timed its music to end at a minute to noon. Finally, at exactly noon, Chief Justice Roberts swore in Donald Trump as our 45th president. There was then a 21-cannon salute with the howitzers being located on the Capitol grounds. The howitzers were loud and a surprise to many who, until they saw the weapons on large television screens, were clearly startled. The whole event was perfectly orchestrated.
The president’s inaugural address was not long and he stayed to his long-expressed themes. I cannot speak for all Americans, but I know those who supported him were pleased to have him reinforce his commitment to the changes he had advocated for the past year in this all-important speech.
Benedictions followed and the event was appropriately concluded with the national anthem.
We had special seating for the parade almost directly across from the reviewing stand in front of the White House in a super secure area. It was maybe a bit less than a two-mile walk from our inaugural seats. Along the way, we passed through groups of anarchist-type protestors who were mixing it up with Trump supporters.
Apparently, near our path, they had fired a limo as well as destroyed the storefronts of a number of businesses including the restaurant we had dinner at the night before. At our entrance to the parade, there was an altercation taking place that required police intervention. The Secret Service and police at this site asked us to move off the street immediately to their checkpoint and once again we passed through metal detectors.
Fran Vella-Marrone and her husband Gary together with others from the State Conservative Party joined us in this area. We were able to catch the many dignitaries arriving in groups and one by one at the reviewing stand. We cheered, in many cases, as people like Dr. Carson walked right by.
This parade area was entered by the parade through a heavily guarded gate with police lining the sides and many Secret Service and other law enforcement in place before the parade even arrived. This is where the president and vice president actually got out of their vehicles and walked.
Trump got out practically in front of us to stroll for quite a while. Pence and his family started earlier on and walked right by. The president’s family also got out earlier and were making their way along the street to the reviewing stand.
The protestors did their job to disrupt things, and the parade — which was to end around five — ended closer to seven, which was a problem for many who planned to go to one of the two balls.
Janet and I had not made plans to attend this year’s balls. Nicole actually attended two – the New York Society Ball on Thursday night and the Freedom Ball attended by President Trump on Friday night. She told me she had a great time and I think her Facebook photos confirm it.
Others in our group were Nick Bardolato and his brother, Dennis Houdek and his son, Liam McCabe and Christine Sisto, Pam and Robert Kelter, and Shaun Levine from the State Conservative Party and her family. Brooklyn Republican Chairperson Teddy Ghorra and his wife, George Prezioso, John Abi-Habib and his family, as well as James McClelland with his wife and Marko Kepi from Senator Golden’s staff, were also in the capital for the events.
Let us wish our new president a successful four years. His success is pivotal to our national success.