Parties in Aspen, the valley to help usher Obama into office |

Parties in Aspen, the valley to help usher Obama into office

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Inauguration merchandise is shown as campers register at Cherry Hill Park, an RV park and campground in College Park, Md., outside of Washington, Monday, Jan. 19, 2009. A majority of the guests staying at the park are attending Tuesday's inauguration in Washington. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

ASPEN ” When President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in Tuesday in Washington, D.C., the inauguration will be watched by untold millions of television viewers across the country and the world, as will the day-long and into-the-night festivities surrounding the event.

And some of those viewing will be at local “inaugural balls” in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley.

At least one such public event is planned in Aspen, at the Takah Sushi restaurant at 320 S. Mill St. next to Wagner Park, which opens for dinner at 5:30 p.m. and is inviting diners to “dress like someone who slept in the White House.”

Two more publicly advertised events are to be held in Carbondale ” at the Dos Gringos Burritos restaurant in the La Fontana Plaza on Highway 133, starting at 7 p.m., and the Mi Casita restaurant at 580 Main St., starting at 8 p.m.

In addition, there are expectations that private parties will be held up and down the valley, as Obama supporters celebrate the departure of outgoing President George W. Bush and the inauguration of the nation’s first black president, and first Democrat to occupy the White House since Bill Clinton left office in 2001.

Oh, and one local furniture business obviously is hoping to capitalize on the excitement engendered by the inauguration.

The Strange Imports store, located between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs near the CMC turnoff on Highway 82, is promoting an “Inauguration Week Sale,” declaring in a newspaper ad, “The Time for Change has Come … Your Interior, that is!”

An indication of how popular the inauguration is abroad can be seen in the online version of the London Telegraph, which on Monday carried a lengthy story about the event, including such tidbits as Obama’s plans to use the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln laid his hand on in 1861 ” and which hasn’t been used since.

The paper also reported that organizers are cautioning people to minimize their use of cell phone recorders and cameras for fear of overwhelming the nation’s wireless telephone networks, and that “Shops have sprung up all over the capital offering everything from badges, flags, T-shirts and hats to iPod cases, Obama action figures, playing cards, thongs and even condoms” as well as a special “Obama Blend Kenyan coffee.”

A newspaper advertisement for the Takah Sushi party bills the restaurant as “Inaugural Headquarters,” and after inviting participants to dress up for the event even suggests names of a few who slept there (or, if they didn’t sleep, were at least active there), including “Thomas, George, Bill, Dickie, Eleanor, Nancy, Martha, Monica …” The reader is left to determine the last names, and connections, sleeping or otherwise.

At Dos Gringos, which opens its coffeeshop at 6 a.m. for the early commuting crowd, a huge television screen (and a smaller, normal-sized adjunct screen) will be on starting at 9 a.m. to watch the actual inauguration proceedings, including the swearing in itself, which is scheduled to begin some time around noon on the East Coast (that’s 10 a.m. locally), after a “musical interlude” featuring a variety of nationally known performers.

The television will be on throughout the day, according to restaurant staffers, and into the night as news crews and commentators record the events in Washington. Dos Gringos operated as a de facto Obama campaign center during last year’s election.

Over at Mi Casita on Main Street, the party begins at 8 a.m., with deejay Echo da Funk spinning tunes and two 56-inch televisions displaying the proceedings in Washington.

According to owner Kilo Pena, the TVs at Mi Casita also will be turned on in the morning to show the inauguration itself, and a special red-white-and-blue drink has been concocted for the occasion, made of strawberries, pina colada and blue Curaçao liqueur.

The Mi Casita party is being organized by Carbondalian Marlene Cohen, and is part of a coordinated party effort by the national political organization,

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