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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Home States Ball on Obama's list of 10 official party stops

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawai'i once again will have to share President-elect Barack Obama with Illinois when he appears at one of 10 inauguration-night balls following his swearing-in ceremony.

The Obama Home States Inaugural Ball Illinois and Hawai'i will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center but is only open to invited guests, with tickets going for $150 each.

Only the 10 inauguration-night balls designated by the Presidential Inaugural Committee are guaranteed to include an appearance by Obama.

But the organizers of the Hawai'i Inaugural Ball held the same night Jan. 20 still hope Obama stops by.

"We've done all the things to make sure he knows he's invited to our event," said Honolulu-born Jeanette Kennedy, who is helping to plan the Hawai'i Inaugural Ball. "Unfortunately, a million other people are also trying to do the same thing."

Kohono Mossman, the Maui-born chairman of the 2009 Hawai'i Inaugural Ball, said Obama will see a representative slice of the Islands in chilly Washington, D.C., if he makes an appearance at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

There will be Punahou School classmates of Obama's, young and veteran Hawai'i entertainers and flowers from the Islands.

"All of the support that the people of Hawai'i have shown make this event truly representative of Hawai'i," Mossman said. "We're confident that if the president knows that, he would like to be part of the celebration."

But Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden are scheduled to appear at only 10 inaugural night balls that night: a Youth Inaugural Ball; five regional inaugural balls; a Neighborhood Inaugural Ball; Commander in Chief's Ball; and balls for Biden and Obama's "home states" Illinois and Hawai'i for Obama; and Delaware and Pennsylvania for Biden, said Shannon Gilson, spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

The Regional Inaugural Balls will include invited guests from the Midwest, West, East, South and Mid-Atlantic regions.

The Youth Ball is for people ages 18 to 35 and is intended to highlight the role they can play in their communities, according to the committee.

Then Obama and Biden will each host friends, families and local supporters at their home state balls.

SECURITY WILL BE TIGHT

Also yesterday, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies reminded people planning to attend the swearing-in ceremony about strict security measures and the typically cold D.C. weather that greets the new president on inauguration day.

The temperature on inauguration day typically is 37 degrees at noon, which sometimes includes rain. However, umbrellas are banned in the secure areas of the National Mall.

Parents also were reminded that their children must have a ticket issued by Congressional offices to attend the ceremony, except for children who are too young to walk.

Strollers, baby carriages, backpacks and other large bags are among the banned items.

The inaugural ceremonies committee also warned people that the west front of the Capitol will be completely exposed, with no tents or covered areas to guard against inclement weather and there will be no food stands.

But people can bring strollers and umbrellas if they plan to watch the ceremony outside secured areas.

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.