RALEIGH, N.C. — Continuing three days of traditional festivities, North Carolina's top elected leaders on Friday were cutting the rug on the eve of their public swearings-in.
The North Carolina Governor's Inaugural Ball at the Raleigh Convention Center was the site Friday of a celebration of the best of the Tar Heel state.
The Avett Brothers and Parmalee were among the bands with North Carolina ties to entertain as new Gov. Pat McCrory and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest mingled with the estimated 3,500 guest. The ball is a tradition of the Junior League of Raleigh, and the proceeds raise money for charity.
"It's a great tradition and a great honor," said Pat Wilkins, president of the Junior League. "We also do it to celebrate North Carolina and to impact the community."
The party was paid for, as past inaugurations have been, by individuals and North Carolina corporations who gave anywhere from $600 to $50,000 to be sponsors.
"Tonight we'll celebrate and then get to work. I guarantee it," McCrory said.
The action moves outdoors Saturday morning for the formal inaugural ceremony on the south side of the old Capitol building, with the inaugural parade in downtown Raleigh to follow.
In contrast to custom, the governor and lieutenant governor took their oaths of office in a pair of smaller ceremonies inside the old Capitol – McCrory last Saturday and Forest on Monday. Both wanted to be installed before the new Legislature convened Wednesday. The two will take the oaths again outdoors Saturday as the remaining council members follow tradition and get sworn in during the public ceremony.
McCrory has held open houses this week in Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro and New Bern. He'll also hold the traditional open house Saturday afternoon at the Executive Mansion.
"We also wanted to make the whole week an opportunity of getting to know North Carolina and meeting the people, and then having the final celebration here in Raleigh," McCrory said recently. The location for Saturday's ceremony, which will be broadcast statewide, also will be different. Most recent inauguration ceremonies have been held on the steps of the state library.
This year, Supreme Court justices will swear in 10 council members while looking down Fayetteville Street, the main thoroughfare in downtown Raleigh.
The new venue is "a signal that we're opening up to the city of Raleigh, which is my new home and it's not just a government inauguration," McCrory said. "It's a people's inauguration on 'Main Street.'"
"I'm so glad my wife and other leaders' spouses in the community went to that mission in Durham and showed while we celebrate transition, our main goal is to rebuild this economy and help these people," the new governor said.