Bush tones down events for second inauguration
TALLAHASSEE -- At a time when other states are swearing in governors with low-key ceremonies, Gov. Jeb Bush is planning a three-day celebration to mark his second term in office.
But it still isn't quite the party he threw four years ago, when Celia Cruz, KC and the Sunshine Band, Chaka Khan and other performers whooped it up in Miami to kick off a statewide celebration.
Bush said the difference between his first inauguration and the event this time will be a barbecue instead of a big concert, an informal instead of formal ball, and no parade.
"But it will be big," he said. "People still want to come."
Bush, the first Republican to be re-elected Florida governor, again will start his inaugural events in Miami, where more than 2,200 people have requested tickets for a kickoff barbecue Jan. 5.
Unlike 1999, when inaugural events also were held in Tampa and Orlando, Bush will head straight to Tallahassee on Jan. 6 for a "Black Tie and Blue Jeans" ball on the Florida State University campus.
The next day will start with a prayer breakfast at Florida A&M University, followed by the inauguration ceremony at Florida's Old Capitol, an open house at the governor's mansion and a nighttime street carnival beside the mansion.
Other than the $100 ball tickets, all of the events are free. So far, more than 3,000 people have requested tickets to each of the Tallahassee events, including 4,300 for the inaugural ceremony.
"The overwhelming majority of them are just regular, everyday Floridians," said Todd Harris, spokesman for the inaugural committee. "We've received hundreds of calls from people who want their children to be able to see a governor sworn in. It's a piece of history."
The events will cost more than $1 million, but will not reach the $1.6 million spent four years ago. Private donations of up to $10,000 each are being raised to pay for the events.
"There is some level of economic uncertainty, and this is not the time to break the bank on an inaugural celebration," Harris said.
Although not the party it was four years ago, it still is more than what some states are doing.
California Gov. Gray Davis and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford plan to have barbecues instead of balls. Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn, whose 1999 galas had a swing band and 22-piece orchestra, plans to hold a luncheon.
Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland, just elected to his third term, is planning an open house with coffee. Michigan Gov.-elect Jennifer Granholm is breaking tradition by not hosting an inaugural ball in the capital for the first time since 1963, though she is holding parties in three other cities.
"We think that we have struck a proper balance between recognizing the importance of the events versus making the events bigger than they need to be," Harris said.
Bush also is using the inaugural activities as a book drive.
"The governor has set a goal to collect 10,000 books to be donated, all of which is in line with the governor's emphasis on reading," Harris said. "There will be book collection bins at every one of the events."
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From the Times state desk
From the state wire