Excitement builds for inauguration

Published 7:52 am Friday, January 16, 2009

FRANKLIN—Although millions around the world will watch as Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, a number of area residents will be among the estimated 3-5 million who plan to make the journey to Washington, D.C., and witness the event first-hand.

Franklin resident Sharita Sykes said she will head out to D.C. around 5 p.m. Monday. The waitress said she voted for Obama because his platform seemed to be most in line with her personal goals.

“I believe what Obama is trying to do benefits me personally,” she said. “I’m going to show my appreciation and support the candidate I voted for.”

Sykes said she would like to take her 7-year-old son, Michael, but because of the massive crowds, she doesn’t think it would be a good idea.

“If my mom sees Mr. Obama, I want her to tell him hi for me,” Michael said.

Sykes said missing the inauguration was not an option for her.

“A lot of people say they will watch it on TV,” she said. “I just have to be there. I know I’m going to get emotional and cry when I see him.”

For those who won’t be able to make the trip, there will be plenty of activities to help everyone feel a part of the historic event.

True Word Christian Church on Carrsville Highway in Franklin will hold an Inauguration Prayer Celebration at noon on Tuesday. Church members plan to watch the inauguration ceremony live on a large screen digital projector. After the ceremony is completed, they will join together in a prayer for the new president, his administration and local government leaders.

“The whole idea behind this is to get everybody to come together as a community of Christians to pray that our new president has the strength and courage needed to bring this country together,” said Senior Pastor Charles R. Worth. “We want everyone to come out, no matter who you voted for.”

On Tuesday evening, the Franklin-Southampton Democratic Party will hold its own fundraising Inaugural Ball at the Paul D. Camp Workforce Development Center.

“Since everyone can’t join the crowd, our ball will be a way for people here to have a feeling like they are right there with the Obamas,” committee chairman Chris Smith said.

The ball will be a formal affair and feature a sit-down meal. According to caterer Teresa Hatch of H&H, the meal will consist of three entree choices: roast beef, ham or chicken and feature a variety of desserts, like strawberry shortcake.

Three large screens will be tuned into the network coverage of the official ball.

“While we will have our own DJ, we might tune in as the entertainment of the president’s ball gets started,” Smith said. “One highlight we will definitely watch is President and Michelle Obama’s first dance.”

Smith said all are welcome to attend, regardless of party affiliation.

“In the spirit of the Obama campaign, we are hoping for a bipartisan affair,” he said.

Smith conceded that he would even make provisions for any Republicans who decided to show up. “If a Republican does come, I’ll make sure their donation goes straight to their meal expenses and none of it goes into the Democratic fund,” Smith said with a laugh.

Tickets for the ball are $50 per couple and $30 for singles. A table for eight may be reserved for $800. Tickets will be on sale through Sunday, but will not be sold at the door.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call Smith at 332-0704.