OLYMPIA – There were two inaugural balls in Olympia Wednesday.
One was attended by about Gov. and Mrs. Inslee, other state officials and an estimated 3,000 other folks, men mostly in formal coat and tie and a few kilts, and women mostly in long dresses and a few furs.
The other was bounced around on the driveway outside the governor’s mansion garage and tossed through the basketball hoop on the garage by Inslee and a couple dozen folks, definitely not in evening attire, during a break in Inaugural Day festivities.
The Inaugural Ball, upper case, is as formal and as fancy as official Olympia gets. Tents are set up around the north and south entrances to the Capitol, and heaters kept the well-dressed warm as they left the domed building with its marbled floors and walls for a food and beverage court. Stretch limos, likely imported from Seattle or other points north, dropped people in the normally quiet streets of the Capitol Campus and at one point the line to enter festivities was two blocks long on a night with freezing fog starting to coat the grass.
To keep the celebrants fed, the Inaugural Ball Committee set up some 20 tables piled high with food from local restaurants and culinary schools. They had more than 350 chefs and students prepare more than 40,000 appetizers.
They had 30 bartenders, in case anyone got thirsty – which some did. And ice sculptures to decorate the tables, including a salmon, a Chinese dragon and a fairly phallic looking geoduck.
Inside the Capitol, the rotunda became a stage where the Chitra South Indian Twins, Karishma and Aishwarya Mandyan, performed traditional Indian dances, sometimes to nontraditional Indian songs like “God Bless America”, and the Nisqually, Squaxin and Chehalis tribes performed dances from completely different Indian tradition.
The other inaugural ball was the pickup variety, invitees of Inslee, a self-proclaimed “hoop-aholic.” He said he hoped the game would become an annual event, and encourage Washington residents to be more active, and thus more healthy.
Inslee and the others played series of half-court, 3-on-3 games. During a break in the action, he said he planned to bring a team to Spokane this summer for Hoopfest, with the goal of winning twice as many games as the 2012 campaign team. Put another way: he’d like to win two games this year.