PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Kim McDonald will spend Inauguration Day at a place she never expected to return to: college.
The Presque Isle resident and former college student said over the weekend that she planned to go to the University of Maine at Presque Isle today to watch televised coverage of Barack Obama officially becoming the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American to serve in that office.
“I have some friends who go to UMPI and they told me that they are going to be showing the inauguration on a projection screen, and they told me I should come,” she said. “I have the day off and it sounds fun, so I told them I would go.”
The University of Maine at Presque Isle is one of many places across the state that plan to hold such celebrations.
The university will show the inauguration on a large projection screen in Wieden Auditorium to give students, faculty, staff and community members an opportunity to gather together and watch the event.
National televised coverage of Inauguration Day festivities begins at 10 a.m., and all are invited to come to Wieden Auditorium at that time.
The university will formally begin its event at 11 a.m. with a welcome and introduction by President Don Zillman, followed by a short talk by Joy Cushman, who served as a deputy field director for Obama’s presidential campaign team.
Cushman, of Presque Isle, worked in Georgia, South Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida during the 2008 presidential campaign. She will speak about her opportunity to participate in the political process and the roles everyday people play in shaping the future of our government.
Officials at Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle are planning a similar party.
The Presque Isle Inaugural Watching Party and Presidential Food Fiesta will get under way at 11:30 this morning in the Reed Dining Commons at NMCC. The event will feature the live broadcast on a large-projection screen of Obama’s swearing-in at noon and a buffet of foods that are significant to every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy.
Candice Rivera, a liberal studies student at NMCC, is organizing the party.
“The excitement that was seen on college campuses across the country leading up to last November’s election was certainly the case here at NMCC. So many students here were and still are very interested in what is happening politically. We want to be engaged and involved,” she said. “Many students were talking about how neat it would be to get together to watch the inauguration and see history in the making together, and how this will be one of those moments that you will remember where you were and what you were doing when it happened. We decided to add a little to the event to make it that much more memorable.”
NMCC dining services manager and head chef Mark Strang and his Sodexho Inc. staff will prepare the cuisine and serve the Presidential Food Fiesta.
The menu will include John F. Kennedy’s New England Clam Chowder, Richard Nixon’s Watergate Salad, George H.W. Bush’s Pork Rinds, Bill Clinton’s Chicken Enchiladas and George W. Bush’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches.
In addition to other dishes, the featured entree will be the Barack Obama Yes We Can! pasta bar, where NMCC dining services staff will saute pasta to order with a number of different sauces in honor of Obama. Obama has said that Italian food — specifically from the Italian Fiesta Pizzeria in Hyde Park, Chicago — is his fa-vorite.
The buffet lunch is open to the public. Cost for the meal is $6.50 and includes salad bar, assorted desserts and beverage.