Biden's Inauguration Will Feature Tom Hanks and Others

Biden's Inauguration Will Feature Tom Hanks and Others

2021-01-13 21:08:43

So many crowded at President Andrew Jackson's inaugural reception that he was said escaped from the White House through a window. President John F. Kennedy hired a Rat Pack friend, Frank Sinatra, to provide entertainment when he took office. And, well, the Obamas danced to Beyoncé.

The transfer of presidential power in the United States has always been a landmark political event, but has also developed over the centuries into an important cultural touchstone – a whirlwind of parades, celebrations and performances that shed light every four years. the culture of the country, the tastes of its leaders and the images they try to project.

But as the coronavirus pandemic enters a deadlier phase and Washington is on edge following the Capitol riot and warnings of further security threats, the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. necessarily be different. It will participate in a long series of national events – major sports competitions, the Democratic National Convention, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and New Year's Eve in Times Square – that have been forced to shrink and adapt to a socially distant, remote world.

On Wednesday, the inaugural committee of Mr. together as a nation to heal and rebuild. "

With crowds urged to stay at home In order not to spread the virus even before a violent mob tried to block election certification, Mr. Biden's inauguration promises to adopt a different look, tone, and feel from those of his predecessors.

"All inaugural activities follow a fairly standard sequence of events," said Lina Mann, a historian with the White House Historical Association. & # 39; You have the parade, you are in the Capitol, you have the speeches, you have taken oaths, and then of course you have inaugural balls. They have been standard for more than 200 years. This will certainly look very different. "

So, as the country prepares to usher in the Biden era with a series of atypical inaugural events designed to meet the pressing needs of the day, here's a look at how politics has intersected with culture on some of the historical inaugural moments of the past.

It was the glittering ball that held Dolley Madison in 1809 at the inauguration of her husband, James – the first inaugural ball held in the new capital, Washington – that helped set the standard for making inaugurations into social events.

Two decades later, President Andrew Jackson allowed an estimated 20,000 people to attend a public reception related to his inauguration. That turned out to be a few too many in attendance, leading to his reported escape through a White House window.

Ms. Mann, the historian, said she's the entertainment at Kennedy & # 39; s inauguration – featuring Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Leonard Bernstein, Sidney Poitier, Ethel Merman, Harry Belafonte and other big stars – as a & # 39; big moment & # 39; 39; considered that would set the tone for the kind of glamorous, multiple inaugural outbursts that Americans are used to.

Despite a blizzard disrupting the festivities, a contemporary report described the gala as "perhaps one of the most stunning gatherings of theatrical talent ever brought together in a single show."

Twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan, a former Hollywood actor, found himself attending no less than eight balls, shrugging shoulders with stars like Charlton Heston, while Tony Bennett, Lou Rawls and Ray Charles performed.

"The aura of a lot of money was everywhere," The Times wrote. "Expensive dresses from James Galanos, Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta, unprecedented $ 100 tickets to dance to the music of Count Basie and other big bands."

In the years that followed, most presidents held some sort of inauguration concert and relied on performers to add layers of musical symbolism to their inaugurations. President Bill Clinton's team took things to a level reminiscent of the fanfare of the Kennedy and Reagan celebrations.

In 1993, the Clinton team deployed the likes of Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Kathleen Battle, Kenny G. and Ray Charles for a mega concert at the Lincoln Memorial, which featured critic Jon Pareles wrote in The Times, "promised unity through crossover."


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