Mainers savor post-inauguration ball

Posted Jan. 21, 2009, at 9:11 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Barack and Michelle Obama danced to “At Last” by Etta James.

James Taylor sang his heart out until nearly 2 in the morning.

And a few lucky Mainers were there to soak it all in at the Eastern States Ball on Tuesday night at Union Station. The ball was one of 10 official post-inauguration celebrations held all over the capital city.

“It reminds you of the Bangor Civic Center, doesn’t it?” quipped Severin Beliveau, looking debonair in evening attire.

Swanky couples from all the New England states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands swept through the elegantly decorated train station. The ball was the last stop on a busy night for the Obamas, who made 10 appearances to thank their supporters and, of course, dance.

“Today was your day,” the new president told the excited onlookers from a spot on a stage. “Today was a day that represented all your efforts, all your faith, all your confidence in what’s possible in America. They said it couldn’t be done. And you did it.”

The well-dressed crowd held digital cameras high overhead to catch the best angle of the Obamas as they danced. The first couple looked a little exhausted — it had, after all, been a long day and it was after midnight by the time they made it to Union Station — but happy. Attendees oohed and aahed over the first lady’s white, one-shouldered ball gown.

Earlier, Vice President Biden and his wife, Jill, had stopped in — she clad in an elegant red evening gown. He quoted an Irish poem and urged the party-goers to help “make hope and history rhyme” during the new administration.

“It’s been a great event,” said the Rev. Frank Murray of Auburn, referring to the ball and the inauguration itself. “Seeing the transition of power happen in such a smooth, reverent way, it was really inspiring.”

Cynthia Murray-Beliveau — Murray’s sister and Severin Beliveau’s wife — said that the inaugural events had been “fabulous.” The Beliveaus’ son Emmett served as the executive director of the Presidential Inaugural Committee and was responsible for many of the official events, including the round of balls attended by the president.

“He’s done a wonderful job,” she said of her son. “I’m very proud of him. This is amazing. Incredible, really.”

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