The Wisconsin Inauguration

by Johnny Koremenos

I’ve been a Walker backer for some time now. I interned at his campaign office two summers ago and have volunteered countless hours since that time. So, for me, and thousands of others who have given time to the Walker campaign, Monday’s Inaugural ceremony and Inaugural ball were a pretty big deal. My dad described it best, “this is your Super Bowl.” And I’m pretty sure the only way attendees of the Inaugural events could be more excited about being Wisconsinites is if the Packers make it to the Super Bowl.

The excitement within the rotunda on Monday could have blown the dome off the top of the state capitol building. Much of the excitement came in the forms of applause and standing ovations, especially when Attorney General VanHollen announced Wisconsin would be joining the lawsuit to fight federal health care legislation and when Governor Walker announced a special legislative session on job creation. Guests (I’ve read estimates around 2,000) crowded onto the first four levels of the capitol, making it difficult to navigate between sections. I, along with roughly 100 students from across the state, helped usher. While the average age was close to 50, students and children probably accounted for 300 of the attendees. The event, open to the public, had areas of reserved seating for state legislators and close family and friends of the newly elected individuals. I noticed many familiar faces from the campaign trail and witnessed old friends reuniting as guests mingled before the 12:00 p.m. ceremony started. A capitol police officer informed me that all capitol police officers as well as a few state troopers were on duty during the ceremony. As you can imagine, the inaugural ceremony was a who’s who of Wisconsin Republicans. US Senator Ron Johnson, Representatives Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Petri, and Duffy, as well as former governors and many state legislators joined the celebration. After the ceremony Governor Walker held a meet-and-greet open to all attendees, which meant waiting in a line, that snaked through the capitol, for hours. I felt bad for Senator Johnson and Rep. Ryan, as they too were being bombarded by fans asking for pictures, autographs, and opinions on current events. At 2:00pm many people were still waiting to see the Governor, but I snuck off to the Senate chambers to see Leah Vukmir being sworn in as the new senator from Wisconsin’s fifth senate district.

The day ended with over 3,500 people pouring into the Monona Terrace for the Inaugural Ball. I brought out my tuxedo for this black tie optional event, but noticed a variety of dress. The large turnout necessitated the entire building being booked for the event. The ground level of the Monona Terrace was where guests checked in and where food was served. My favorite item was probably the mashed potato martini, which was two ice cream scoops of mashed potatoes in a martini glass and covered with your choice of gravies, cheeses, butter, sour cream, bacon pieces, etc. The roasted pineapple on a scoop of Babcock ice cream was not the only UW-Madison representation at the ball. The UW Marching Band interrupted festivities and had the crowd clapping and singing along. After an hour or two many guests made their way to the lower level of the Monona Terrace to hear Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch speak. When they were finished speaking the stage became the playground for local bands such as The Eddie Butts Band. Guests rocked out until midnight, when the Monona Terrace closed. All in all the day’s events were definitely a great way to celebrate my “Super Bowl.” Now, let’s hope I’ll be cheering on the Packers in the real Super Bowl at the beginning of next month!

Comments

  1. Thanks Johnny – Nice to get your perspective on the day Wisconsin opened for business!