WASHINGTON, D.C. —
“We both wanted to attend in 2009, but we weren’t able to,” Hardridge-Finley said. But now everything fell into place so that we could attend the 2013. So we are honored to be able to be here. It’s awesome.”
Hardridge-Finley said it was her birthday Saturday. She celebrated by going to the Oklahoma State Society Inaugural Gala held at Clyde’s of Gallery Place in D.C.
The event, which was helped organized by University of Oklahoma alum Erin Wiley, honored Oklahomans who will serve in the next Presidential administration.
The Oklahoma gala is just one of many inaugural balls planned this weekend. They have become a highlight for inauguration goers.
“I would say the atmosphere has been a lot of excitement,” Washington said. “The fact that it is President Obama’s second term and for those who were not able to make the first inauguration, I think this gives them the opportunity to attend.”
However, those who were around for the inauguration in 2009 can tell there is a difference in the atmosphere.
An estimated 800,000 people are expected to flock to Washington for the event, down from the record 1.8 million in 2009.
Patricia Slade, who runs a men’s clothing store in Virginia said there is fervor, but just not as much as four years ago.
“The newness has worn off,” Slade said. “That’s to be expected.”
The inauguration is also coming off the heels of one of the most heated and divisive Presidential elections in recent history. Even though the swearing in of the president is supposed to mark a new beginning, many do not feel the rhetoric will decrease anytime soon.
“I don’t see it getting any better,” Washington said. “I think an underlying tone is racism. It still comes into play in a lot of the rhetoric you see thrown.”