New Hampshire preps for Inauguration Day and the country’s future

  • Army Sgt. Maj. Greg Lowery, standing in for President-elect Donald Trump, walks to the podium during a rehearsal of the swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

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    Krista Suh, co-creator of the "pussyhat," wears one that she knitted on Jan. 6, 2017 at The Little Knittery in Atwater Village, Calif. (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Monitor staff
Published: 1/17/2017 11:37:14 PM

Between the hundreds of thousands of Presidential Inauguration ticket-holders and the hundreds of thousands of protesters and marchers descending on Washington, D.C., later this week, former New Hampton state representative and Republican Fran Wendelboe decided to avoid the masses and stay home.

“Initially I wanted to go, but I said, ‘You know what? It’s going to be a hassle,” she said. Instead, she’s helping put on the 603 Alliance’s New Hampshire’s Own Presidential Inaugural Ball on Friday at the Grappone Center in Concord. It starts at 6:30 p.m.

“I said, ‘Let’s do something in New Hampshire,” she said. “So many people won’t be fortunate enough to go to D.C. We wanted to give them somewhere nice to celebrate.”

Wendelboe said about 150 people are expected to attend. She added, “We’re requesting people to come as fancy as they like.”

Granite Staters will have two other balls to pick from, too: the Raymond VFW is putting on an inaugural ball with DJ Jammin’ Jeff between 6:30 p.m. and midnight, and the Jaffrey American Legion is hosting a similar event from 8 p.m. to midnight.

During the day, Kent House of Chester will be opening its bed and breakfast from noon to 8 p.m. Friday for voters to come and celebrate the start of Donald Trump’s presidency.

“I know there are some house parties in different places,” Wendelboe said.

While some New Hampshire residents are partying, others will be protesting. A Facebook event has been created for Friday morning, when people are invited to protest in front of the New Hampshire State House between 10 and 11 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter announced on Twitter on Monday night that she would be sitting out the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., along with more than 40 other House Democrats.

“Instead of going to the Inauguration, I’ll go to religious services to pray for all of our leaders and people, then will serve my district,” Shea-Porter wrote.

The rest of New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation plans to attend the Presidential Inauguration ceremony. U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster issued a statement Tuesday stating why:

“I plan to attend the inauguration of President-elect Trump because we cannot allow our democracy to be hijacked and that requires defending our democratic institutions,” she said, adding, “I fully support the choice of my colleagues who have reached a different decision. I understand and share the deep frustration of so many of the people in New Hampshire and around the country with the rhetoric and policies of Donald Trump.”

To that end, Kuster said she would be going to the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, the day after the inauguration.

“We will in one strong voice denounce the politics of division and hate, call for accountability for Mr. Trump, and demand policies that benefit the many, not the few,” Kuster said.

For those unable to get to D.C., there are various opportunities for people to stand in solidarity here at home. New Hampshire residents have Concord, Portsmouth and North Country events to choose from on Saturday.

In Concord, the New Hampshire Women’s Day of Action and Unity will be held in front of the State House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A rally, drum circle, speakers and activist training will all be offered.

One of the organizers, Concord resident and United Church of Christ minister Gayle Murphy, said the event is about unity and New Hampshire residents coming together.

“This is not a Trump-bashing or an anti-Trump effort,” Murphy said. “We grew out of the March on Washington. We worked hard to make this be a day reflective of who we are in New Hampshire.”

Portsmouth will host a New Hampshire Women’s March for Civil Rights at North Church at Market Square, with a march up and down Congress Street starting at 1:45 p.m.

Farther north, a group will assemble in the Jackson Grammar School parking lot and march from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. At the same time, another group will demonstrate at the four corners – the corners of Route 153 and Route 16 – in Conway.

Both Wendelboe and Murphy said this year’s Presidential Inauguration period was different in New Hampshire than others in recent memory.

Wendelboe attributed some of that to establishment Republicans staying home and, like her, wanting to celebrate here in New Hampshire.

“I know there has never been an inaugural ball at the level we’re doing it,” Wendelboe said. She said she didn’t remember any other inauguration being protested like Trump’s, and thought that was in part due to media coverage.

“They have so one-sided reported it,” Wendelboe said. Though, she added, “President-elect Trump has given them a lot of fodder in many ways – the first Twitter president.”

For Murphy, she said this was the first time she’s ever gotten involved because she felt the time was right for action.

“This is brand new for me – I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said. “I see a need for us to come together to stand with people who are being threatened right now.”

She added that the response to Donald Trump’s election as president wasn’t, in her view, about one man, one system, or one side.

“It is not one person or one situation – I think we have been deeply divided for a very long time,” Murphy said. “For me, it’s now time to try and bridge some of that division and reach out to other people.”

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)

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