Pomp and circumstance lets Missouri meet its new governor

Monday, January 12, 2009 | 8:41 p.m. CST; updated 10:45 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 3, 2010
The Hazelwood West High School marching band participated in the inauguration day parade in Jefferson City. The parade began at 10 a.m. Monday morning.

JEFFERSON CITY — While the highlight of Missouri's inauguration day might have been the governor's short inaugural address, most of the day was spent on celebrations and festivities.

Monday's show started with a parade that led the officials and other participants on a route from the Missouri River Regional Library to the Capitol. All statewide office holders, including Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Treasurer Clint Zweifel, State Auditor Susan Montee, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, Attorney General Chris Koster and Speaker of the House Ron Richard, participated in the day's events, though Gov. Jay Nixon stole the showfrom most of them.

In two red cars, Nixon and his wife, Georganne, followed by their two sons, were driven up to the Capitol steps. The newly elected officials and their families were accompanied by high school bands from across the state.

Celeste Ambrosius came out to see her son, who marched with the Jefferson City High School band.

"It's freezing so we're not staying for the inauguration," she said. "It's just exciting to be a part. I mean it's history in the making so it's always cool to be down here."

Following the swearing-in ceremony and a first meeting in the governor's office, Nixon greeted the public at the Governor's Mansion.

Docents dressed in period clothing from the 1870s, who serve as tour guides for the mansion, guided guests inside. While listening to the live pianist, the attendees were able to meet the new governor and his family.

Guests tended to be either supporters of Nixon or people who work in the political field.

Two women traveled almost four hours from Neosho, which is south of Joplin.

"We're frozen but happy," Mary Frencken said.

Helen Jobe has been a docent for about 10 years and has volunteered at four inaugurations.

"I have been here through both Republicans and Democrats and I've enjoyed them all," Jobe said. "The first ladies are wonderful to work with."

The Inaugural Potluck Dinner featured hot dogs, hamburgers, salads and dessert. The cake even displayed a sign assuring guests that it was not paid for with taxpayer dollars. The food ran out before the arrival of the Nixons much to the governor's chagrin, he said.

The idea for the potluck dinner was Jay Nixon's.

"I've known Jay for a while, and we grew up together in the same town. I think it's a little bit of his DeSoto roots coming through, this potluck thing," Al Luebbers said.

The potluck theme of giving and taking continued through Nixon's short speech in the Capitol Plaza Hotel lobby.

"So, as we embark on these next four years, I hope the fun that we're having today is emblematic of that fact that each and everyone of us is going to keep a smile on our face, each and everyone of us is going to bring something to help other people, and each and everyone of us is going to be responsible for ourselves when it comes to dinner time," he said.

The day rounded out with the Grand March and Inaugural Ball in the State Capitol, where liquor flowed freely in the offices of many elected officials.

Most of the Capitol was open for the public to wander around. Many offices of elected officials offered food and beverages to their visitors. Only the hallway outside of the governor's office was cordoned off.

"It's a real mixture of people. You get to see people you already know, old friends maybe you haven't seen for years. Other elected officials will stop by and their staff will stop by," said Joe Martin, chief of staff for Montee. "It's a good opportunity to see people from a wide spectrum of sources."

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