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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Governor plays ball before attending Ball

Friendly game of hoops precedes formal shindig

OLYMPIA – There were two inaugural balls in Olympia on Wednesday.

One was attended by Gov. Jay Inslee and his wife, 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 dribbled around on the driveway outside the governor’s mansion garage and tossed through the basketball hoop mounted on the garage by Inslee and a couple dozen others, definitely not in evening attire, during a break in Inauguration 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 as freezing fog started 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. More than 350 chefs and students prepared more than 40,000 appetizers.

They had 30 bartenders, in case anyone got thirsty – and some did. And ice sculptures to decorate the tables, including a salmon, a Chinese dragon and a risque-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.” The Nisqually, Squaxin and Chehalis tribes performed dances from completely different Indian tradition.

The other ball was the pickup variety hosted by Inslee, a self-proclaimed “hoopaholic.” He said he hoped the game would become an annual event and encourage Washington residents to be more active and healthy.

Inslee and the others played a series of half-court, 3-on-3 games. During a break, 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 did. Put another way: he’d like to win two games this year.

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