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Lake County to celebrate president’s second inauguration

Arthur Gass

Arthur Gass

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Tickets are still available for the county’s 44th Presidential Inaugural Celebration to be held Jan. 21 at the Holiday Inn-Gurnee Convention Center, 6161 W. Grand Ave. The Inaugural Luncheon and Swearing-In Ceremony, held beginning at 10:30 a.m., is $35. The Inauguration Reception, Dinner and Ball, which begins at 6 p.m. is $75. Attendance for both events is $100.

Tickets can be purchased at the Black Chamber of Commerce of Lake County, 1020 W. Glen Flora Ave., Waukegan. Call (847) 599-9510 or email

Updated: March 6, 2013 2:15AM

It may be history in the making — the second inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president — but it will also be very cold, very crowded and very expensive.

Lake Countians are lining up to attend the Presidential Inauguration on Monday, Jan. 21, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., or the accompanying parade and inaugural balls.

Even though this year’s inauguration also marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 1863 placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome, most folks will watch the festivities from afar, on TV or via digital options.

Tickets for the swearing-in start at $249 for a ­standing spot on the far side of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall and go up to ­— gulp — $9,800 for a comfy reserved seat, presumably close enough to read the words on the Bible that most certainly will be the same one, once again, on which Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office.

But for people of more limited means, time off or inclination, the second inauguration of the 44th president will be celebrated with no less enthusiasm at two modestly priced events sponsored by the Black Chamber of Commerce of Lake County, an Inaugural Luncheon and a combined reception, dinner and ball. Both will be held Jan. 21 at the Holiday Inn-Gurnee. The luncheon, which begins at 10:30 a.m. will feature a birdseye view of capitol festivities on a 10-foot screen. The Inauguration Reception and Ball begins at 6 p.m.

Chamber President Rev. Arthur Gass said the local celebrations, which the chamber also sponsored in 2008, are aimed at average citizens, people who lack invitations, can’t afford tickets or seats, and don’t want to pay to “stand for a long time.”

“Our first African-American president was elected not just once, but twice,” Gass said. “That’s something to celebrate.”

State Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, and former state Rep. Lauren Beth Gash of Highland Park, now chairman of the Tenth Congressional District Democrats, will attend the actual inaugural. Both worked with Obama in the General Assembly back before anyone even thought to doubt that a politician with such a foreign-sounding name could be elected to the U.S. Senate, let alone to the presidency of the United States — twice.

“If it was anybody else, I may not have gone,” said Link who, accompanied by his wife Susan, will spend four days in D.C. where the going rate for a night in a hotel is $400 and up. “But because of the personal connection between the president and myself, it’s special to me and I want to see it (inauguration) in action.”

Obama and Link, who both arrived in the Illinois Senate in 1997, played poker together and had many long conversations about politics, about the state, about life, Link said.

“We were seatmates, we were officemates,” Link said. “I never thought he would be president in those early days. But I always make the joke I knew I would be in the Senate longer than he would. You knew right from the beginning this guy was a special individual. And he proved it.”

“Whether people supported Barack Obama or not, in America we set aside our differences and celebrate the winner,” Gass said. “That’s the American way. That’s what we’re doing.”

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