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Organizers Recount Memories Of Past Inaugural Balls

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RALEIGH — Governor-elect Mike Easley and thousands of others will dance the night away at the Civic Center Friday night at the 2001 Inaugural Ball. There is plenty of history that goes along with the event.

TheJunior League of Raleighstartedorganizing the ballback in 1933 when the budget was tight.

"The General Assembly appropriated $600 for the inauguration. I know $600 was a lot then, but it was still $600," says Jennie Hayman of the Junior League of Raleigh.

No matter how much planning there is, there are things that sometimes get overlooked -- like back in the 1950s when the flowers were forgotten.

"The story goes with sirens blaring and lights flashing. The ball chairman jumps into the Highway Patrol car, and rushes to the florist," Hayman says. "They open up the florist. She grabs the flowers, and she arranges them in the backseat of the Highway Patrol car. She gets back to Memorial Auditorium, and no one ever knew anything had happened at the last minute."

The Junior League also received a phone call from former N.C. State basketball coach Jim Valvano.

"He called up one day, and said you are not going to dance on my basketball floor because I have a ballgame the next day, and I'm not going to let those ladies' heels mess up the basketball floor," says Mary Brent Wright of the Junior League of Raleigh.

As a result, the ball bounced from Reynolds Colliseum to downtown Raleigh. Even though the faces and the fashions may have changed through the years, the ladies still have a ball to plan.

"We're ready for it to be here. It's been fun," Hayman says. "We've talked about it, and now we're ready to do it."

This year's theme is "Treasures of North Carolina." Volunteers with the league have been planning the ball for the last six months.