Attending Inauguration “One In A Lifetime Opportunity”

Glynis Wray, Toms River enjoys fireworks outside the new African American museum in Washington DC during her inaugural weekend activities. (Photo by Peter Bacich)

An Ocean County couple had the opportunity to take in the atmosphere of this past weekend’s presidential inaugural activities in Washington D.C. Their experience included a concert, witnessing the swearing in of Donald J. Trump as 45th U.S. president and an inaugural ball.

This marked the first inaugural event for Glynis Wray, Toms River and her boyfriend Peter Bacich, Brick  who wished to be part of such a historic event.

Photo by Stacy Proebstle

“We wanted to attend to support Donald Trump and be a part of living history and witness the peaceful transition of power. It’s a bucket list kind of item that most likely will only occur once in someone’s lifetime,” Wray said.

It held personal meaning for Wray who said, “it was a chance to imagine what it must have been like for my parents who attended Ronald Reagan’s ceremonies in 1981. They are both gone now, and in a way this helped keep my memories of them fresh. I have seen pictures and have their souvenirs from the festivities, including their ball-ticket stubs, blue velvet boxes with ceremonial gold buttons and a Medal of Merit recognizing my dad for being a member of the Republican Presidential Task Force.”

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The couple travelled to Silver Spring, Md., checked into a hotel and then travelled on the red line of the Metro. Wray said the inaugural concert was “wonderful. Everyone was very professional and we enjoyed every minute of it. The closing fireworks that spelled out USA were really special. Just being around the monuments is always a magical and majestic experience, and I never tire of seeing them.”

The couple, who had received their tickets to the inaugural swearing in ceremony through the office of former Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders, had one unfortunate incident during their trip in the form of a brief encounter with protestors while attempting to reach the morning swearing in ceremony of President Trump.

Photo by Stacy Proebstle

“Protestors were blocking the entrance to the security area and I was knocked over. Since I am a slow walker, and was using a cane due to health issues, I was setting the pace and leading the way. Unfortunately, we walked right into a group of protesters that were waiting for the blue-ticket holders, just in front of the security checkpoints,” Wray said.

She added that “I had an inkling that we were walking into trouble when I saw a young man in a black T-shirt with yellow caution tape who appeared to be weaving around the walkers blocking them in. At first I assumed he was security, but realized that was not the case when I started to topple over. There was taunting, bullying, pushing and shoving coming from the protesters. I was scared, but Peter got me back up on my feet,” Wray said.

Wray said “we retreated back toward the intersection and proceeded to walk single file. There was now screaming from people on both sides of us.”

“We were being pushed by the crowd like a wave and we were moving forward like leaves in a creek with no control over where we were headed. I admit I was terrified, and it took a great deal of restraint not to hit back with my cane. It was clear from the level of anger that people on both sides have just about had it,” Wray said.

Wray said that despite her concern she had come too far to be deterred being only a few feet from their destination. “I understand the anger the protestors are feeling, but suffice it to say, knocking over a woman using a cane did nothing to sway me to their cause.”

While many have seen this past year’s controversial election process as unique among presidential campaigns, Wray said her experience during the weekend was a positive one and that she does not believe that the nation is truly divided.

“I saw all colors, races, physical abilities and ages within the blue-ticket section. In fact, the people next to us were Democrats who recognized attending an Inauguration as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Despite the experience with the protesters, we do feel that Americans can come together,” Wray added.

“The ball at the Omni Shoreham hotel was lovely. Over 5,500 tickets were sold and it took place on three different floors of the hotel. Each room had a different focus. We spent the most time dancing in the Jazz room, with one of the live bands,” Wray said.

Photo by Stacy Proebstle

Wray added “the room next to it had more of a Latin ballroom twist with faster dancing in there. We ate in that room. Food consisted mainly of small-plate appetizers and included deviled eggs with lobster on top, Kobe sliders, orecchiette pasta, Chinese takeout boxes filled with goodies, shrimp, small sandwiches and other finger foods. It was an extensive spread.”

Bacich said, “there were many bars and there was a mixture of tall cocktail tables that encouraged mingling while standing, sit-down table and chairs and lounge areas and there were five different rooms with strobe lights and the like for dancing. The Millennium band was there. Ticket prices were $150 for students and $175 for alumni/faculty.”

Wray said that while Peter wore a nice tuxedo she bought a new dress, “since dressing up is part of the fun of attending any ball. My older sister picked it out.” The couple enjoyed speaking with people as they flowed in for the ball which ran from 8 p.m. to midnight. They left Washington D.C. Saturday morning and were back in Ocean County by noon.