(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – The George Washington University’s fourth Inaugural Ball kicked off the 2005 spring semester last night with food, fun, and a tastefully apolitical celebration. Despite a chaotic start to the night as the buses to the Omni Shoreham Hotel pulled up to crowds of cold and anxious students, red and blue fans alike left the night with an overall sense of satisfaction.
Over 4,000 tickets were sold for the event at $75 a piece, $65 if they were bought on election night. Many were sold at the last minute for the sold-out event. The majority of guests were GW students, although many faculty and friends and parents of students attended. Other distinguished guests, including ambassadors, congressmen and women, and a senator came to party with the GW crowd as well.
There were four ballrooms to choose from, each with a different selection of food and music. The largest ballroom held a live band, while another offered the chance to swing the night away with King James and the Serfs of Swing. A DJ and a room with various student performers, including GW’s co-ed a capella group the Vibes, offered alternate music choices. Magicians and fortune tellers also decorated the hallways for guests who wanted a break from the crowded dance floors.
Bill Grimes, the father of a GW freshman, came all the way from Indiana with his wife to attend the ball and other events in Washington in celebration of Bush’s second inauguration. “[The ball] is very impressive. It’s much bigger that we thought, we didn’t even expect food,” he said.
President Bush and Vice President Cheney did not make an appearance last night, but a Bush impersonator made his rounds for students to cheer on or enjoy mocking. GW’s ball was not one of the nine official balls funded by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
While many guests were there to celebrate a Republican victory in the White House, most just came to have a good time. “It’s just an excuse to have fun,” said Nicole Lennon, a GW sophomore. “I’m not a poor sport, even though my candidate didn’t win.”
Senior Courtney Foley made a rash decision to buy her ticket on the night of the election at a victory party for a Democratic Congressman from Virginia whose campaign she had been working on. “My friend called to say the tickets were on sale, and I agreed to get one thinking the election would go blue,” she said. “As a Democrat, I was a little weary going. But I found it very tasteful…I had a good time.”
Elephants and donkey ice sculptures adorned the food tables, and the decorations refrained from any themes reflecting party preference. Food selections varied from meat carving stations, to pasta selections, cheese and crackers, vegetables, fajitas, and a large dessert selection. Critics had mixed reactions to the culinary options.
“The food wasn’t as good as I thought. I expected more variety,” said sophomore Robb Hawthorne.
“It’s too crowded,” said Ralph Giammatteo, the friend of a GW faculty member. “And Kerry’s not here. But the food was pretty good.”
“I thought it was a rousing success. We had the biggest student turnout yet. It looked like all the students were having a good time,” said Matt Nehmer, director of Media Relations at GW. “I don’t know how you couldn’t be happy with the success. It was a sellout. You can’t beat that.”
The ball came to a close with the stroke of midnight as the gowns and tuxedos filed out of the hotel. Happy yet tired students paraded back onto the buses to return to campus, where the reality of the semester will begin now that they have experienced a once in four year opportunity to participate in a piece of presidential history.