Clinton 'people's inaugural' includes bus ride to capital, open house for public

December 03, 1992|By Bob Dart | Bob Dart,Cox News Service

WASHINGTON -- Bill Clinton plans a five-day "people's inaugural," beginning with the president-elect taking a bus to the capital and ending with ordinary citizens chatting with the new first family at the White House, his planners said yesterday.

With a nod to history and a bow to symbolism, the festivities will range from traditional black-tie inaugural balls to free outdoor concerts where the new president's fellow baby boomers are being encouraged to wear their jeans and bring their kids.

"Bill Clinton and Al Gore represent a new generation of political leadership for America, and we want this inaugural set of activities to demonstrate and connect with that generational change," said Ronald H. Brown, chairman of the inaugural committee.

Inaugurations can establish the "signature" of the incoming president, inaugural planners said. These events are clearly aimed at enhancing Mr. Clinton's emerging image as a fortysomething populist for the 1990s.

"We are encouraging all Americans to come," said Mr. Brown. "We want to bring people in from all over America to participate in a people's inaugural."

"It sets a new tone," he said. "It represents renewal and hope."

While a ticket to one of the 10 inaugural balls will go for $125, the cost of attending the "American Gala" is a donation of canned food or clothes for the homeless.

There will be posh private receptions for diplomats, governors and members of Congress and formal dances for monied Democrats, but there will also be public concerts and fireworks and a parade and an open house for any and all who can squeeze in.

Bill and Hillary Clinton "set two goals" for the inaugural organizers, said Rahm Emanuel, a Clinton fund-raiser

"One, to preserve the dignity . . . or mantle of the presidency," he said. And two, "to be accessible and neighborly."

Organizers are predicting the biggest inaugural crowds in history -- with 250,000 ticketed spectators at the swearing-in ceremonies and half a million along the parade route between the Capitol and White House.

Mr. Brown said about 65,000 people will attend the inaugural balls.

Taxpayers foot the bill for only the official inaugural ceremony. The other events are paid for by private contributors and sales of tickets and inaugural souvenirs.

Mr. Brown said these costs will be "somewhat below $20 million," about $10 million less than the inauguration of George Bush four years ago.

While some events at the Kennedy Center and Capital Centre in suburban Maryland are free, tickets will be required to attend.

"We are putting together a system" for distribution, said Mr. Brown. "There are massive mailings going out which will give those who receive the invitations an opportunity to get tickets. There will also, in the next several days, be an 800-number that can be called for information on the inaugural."

Tickets for the swearing-in ceremony are also free and distributed through congressional offices.

At a news conference, organizers said the theme of the inaugural will be "An American Reunion -- New Beginnings, Renewed Hope."

It starts Sunday, Jan. 17, when Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore and their wives take a bus trip reminiscent of their campaign journeys.

The 115-mile ride will be from Monticello, Va., home of Thomas Jefferson, the father of the Democratic Party,to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Mr. Brown said well-wishers are being encouraged to ride in a caravan behind the bus.

Meanwhile, in Washington, a free fair and concerts will be held that Sunday on the Mall between the Capitol and Lincoln Memorial.

On Monday, Jan. 18, Mr. Clinton will host a diplomatic reception at Georgetown University, his alma mater, and an "American Citizens Lunch" for people who inspired him while on the campaign trail. This is the night for the concert where admission is a free ticket and a donation for the homeless.

Other public and private events are scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 19. Mr. Clinton will be inaugurated as the 42nd president at noon Wednesday, Jan. 20, at the Capitol. The inaugural parade is that afternoon and the balls are that night.

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