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Celebrating the Inauguration

Many began planning before November, while for others, it was more recent

Singer Katy Perry at President Barack Obama's second inauguration in 2013. What celebrities will be in D.C. this year? (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Singer Katy Perry at President Barack Obama's second inauguration in 2013. What celebrities will be in D.C. this year? (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Long before the election results were in, state societies and organizations in Washington were planning their ways to celebrate the inauguration.

And with inauguration 2017 drawing people from around the country — and the world — groups are putting on events that bring them all together.

This year, some organizations are having the same party they’ve had in the past, while others are holding events in response to Donald Trump’s election.

The Texas State Society started planning its Black Tie & Boots Gala shortly after the last inauguration. Texas throws one of the biggest inauguration balls that attracts celebrities and politicians.

“It’s bipartisan, so I was the chairman anyway. If the other side would have won, I still would be doing this,” said Texas Republican Rep. Roger Williams, chairman of the Texas State Society, which is holding its traditional inauguration gala on Thursday.

The Beach Boys will be headlining, and celebrity guests will include Bobby Knight, Floyd Mayweather, and several others.

“It’s a huge deal in Texas. Texans love coming up here,” Williams said. “Of course, it’s all Texas-themed. One of the sponsors for example is Texas Tech and they’re supplying all the meat.”

In 2000, Williams was involved with the same event.

“I was there … helping President-elect [George W.] Bush as opposed to the Texas State Society,” he said. “This will be up to the level that was, so we’re excited about it. So I’ve kind of seen it from both sides now.”

Like most state society parties, Williams expects the Texas congressional delegation to come, and he said the two Texans among Trump’s Cabinet nominees, Energy pick Rick Perry and Secretary of State-designee Rex Tillerson, have indicated they will come.

“Most of the Texas elected officials will be there,” Williams said. “If they’re not, they’ve made a mistake. They’ve got to be there for all the people, right? I haven’t known a politician yet who’s turned their back on 10,000 people. Get his name mentioned, right?”

Upward of 10,000 tickets are expected to be sold and Williams said he is “optimistic” someone from the Trump family will come. The event takes place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor, Maryland.

“It’s a place big enough to handle it,” he said.

At National Harbor on Friday, the annual Great American Ball will take place at the brand new MGM casino and hotel.

Although the event’s title sounds a lot like Trump’s presidential campaign slogan — “Make American Great Again” — it’s actually nonpartisan.

“Our main focus is celebrating the military. We started the process with the deal with MGM back in July,” event organizer Amy Lao O’Brien said.

“For the last couple of months, we’ve been trying to find the right partners to really celebrate and honor the military. [United Service Organizations], we thought would be a good fit,” she said of one of the event’s partners. “We wanted to also honor the [American Gold Star Mothers Inc.] at the event.”

O’Brien is in charge of the entertainment and country singer Darryl Worley will sing the national anthem and his song about 9/11 attacks “Have You Forgotten?” Also, actor and model Antonio Sabato Jr. will be the masters of ceremonies and Max Hodges will be there, too.

“Max Hodges — he’s the surfer dude from TMZ, if you remember,” event spokesman Joe Reblando said.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III is also expected to attend.

“The other big selling point of the ball is it is at the MGM, which is brand new,” Reblando said. “It’s pretty sweet, just the layout, the massive expanse of it. It’s super nice and this is one of the first big events that’s being held at the MGM, I think, short of their opening party.”

The ball aims to sell 4,500 tickets.

Alternatively, some groups started planning for counter-parties once the election results were in last November. The D.C. chapter of Gays Against Guns was one of them.

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Their goal is “to create a celebratory community, inclusive space for those who are in the LGBTQ-plus community and also those who are allies and partners,” spokesman Kipp Lanham said.

“But also those who are concerned about the pro-gun stance culture that Donald Trump brings,” he added. “He is bringing all of that into Washington for the next four years. We just wanted to ridicule that in levity and joy yet celebrate our fabulousness for about six hours.”

The Gays Against Guns event takes place Friday night at Cobalt, a Dupont Circle gay bar. The group, also known as GAG DC, emerged after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, last June.

“We received a lot of positive responses. We’ve had all sorts of venues within the LGBTQ community opening up to us and wanting to work with us,” Lanham said.

And, through the planning process, he has noticed the other counter-parties being planned around the city.

“It’s really hard to finalize because … a lot of competing groups also wanted to hold events as well. We’re expecting a good number of people — 100 or so — and it’s still growing,” Lanham said.

The event is organized around raising money for the group’s advocacy work in 2017. They also will be coordinating efforts with GAG’s New York chapter for the Women’s March on Washington the next day to “honor female victims of gun violence.”

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