Inauguration ceremony gives way to snowstorm

Posted January 5
Updated January 6

— Gov. Roy Cooper took his oath of office shortly after midnight on New Year's Day, and several other Council of State members did likewise in the following days.

The moves seem prescient now, as the public inauguration ceremony set for Saturday morning has been called off because of winter storm is predicted to dump up to 6 inches of snow on the Raleigh area late Friday and early Saturday.

Inauguration organizers decided Wednesday to move the ceremony from outside the State Archives to inside Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium, but after consulting with Emergency Management officials, they said Thursday that the event would be "postponed."

Instead, Council of State members attended a Friday morning prayer service at First Baptist Church in downtown Raleigh and took their oaths of office at the Executive Mansion a few hours later.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who took his oath of office Tuesday night, wasn't able to attend the Friday afternoon ceremony because of other commitments, spokesman Jamey Falkenbury said.

"Consider yourselves the chosen few," Cooper said with a laugh to the small crowd at the Executive Mansion, noting more than 5,000 people were expected to attend the outdoor inauguration. "I'm excited that we're all here as the Council of State to show that we can work together for a better North Carolina."

It's unclear when – or if – the events, including the inauguration parade, will be rescheduled.

Although the formal events were put on hold, Thursday night's Rock the Ball concert celebrating the new governor still took place at the Lincoln Theatre.

"You know, my election and the aftermath was unconventional, and the first few days with the inclement weather coming, that is unconventional," Cooper said at the concert. "Regardless of the snow, let's have fun the next few days."

"Rain, snow, sleet or hail the fun will continue. We are going to have a good time," said Cooper supporter Samantha Warren.

Many weren't happy, however, when the Junior League of Raleigh consolidated its gala ball, originally scheduled for Saturday night at Reynolds Coliseum on the North Carolina State University campus, with a Friday night reception planned for Marbles Kids Museum downtown.

The museum can hold only 1,000 people, and more than three times that number had purchased tickets to the gala, so organizers said the event would be first-come, first-served.

"The Junior League should be absolutely ashamed of themselves," Tera Caldwell Simon posted on the Junior League's Facebook page. "The way this organization is handling this is absolutely atrocious."

"Very disappointed and not impressed with the leaders who made this decision," Kathy Wilson posted. "You could have planned this for a month from now and folks who paid $160 each to go would still go!! I would love to still go later! This is poor planning."

Others demanded refunds for tickets purchased for the charity fundraiser.

Rebecca Ayers, president of the Junior League, said organizers had no choice.

"Honestly, when we heard there was going to be a state of emergency (Saturday), we realized that we needed to readdress the situation, and we decided, based on all of the event planning options that we had, (Friday) was going to be the best choice," Ayers said. "We're equally disappointed. If there was anything we could have done to have kept this ball on tomorrow night, we would have loved to. We had an incredible event planned that would have represented the state, but here we are."


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  • Chris White Jan 6, 2017
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    I sincerely hope they would reschedule the public inauguration event. Gov. Cooper deserves to have a proper, public inauguration celebration just like the governors before him and we the people who voted him in deserve a chance to celebrate with him. It would be extremely unfair otherwise.

  • Eagle Rest Jan 5, 2017
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    It's very disrespectful for the governor and the junior league of Raleigh to expect guests to attend the inaugural ball in such terrible conditions. The roads will probably in terrible condition when these people are arriving and definitely when they are leaving. If this event is to raise money for charities, then the money has already been collected with the ticket sales. They should be ashamed of theirselves for the true lack of consideration of everyone involved.... guests traveling into town to attend, everyone working the event and their own families!!