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Inaugural to Spotlight Symbolism--and Food

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Setting a good example is the credo of this weekend’s gubernatorial inaugural celebration, from its carefully nurtured ethnic diversity to its consciously California cuisine, from its subsidized ticket prices to the new first couple’s volunteerism.

Even in the unusual pairing of Sunday’s inaugural gala sponsors from labor and management alike, Gov.-elect Gray Davis intends to telegraph his intentions.

“These symbolic gestures are small but important,” said Art Pulaski, president of the inaugural committee and secretary-treasurer of the California Federation of Labor, which raised $250,000 for the gala from member unions to match the $250,000 raised by the California Manufacturers Assn.

Unions wanted to team up with the bosses, Pulaski said, to symbolize the new era of working together that they hope for under a Davis administration.

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Some of the messages will be overt, such as remarks on education during the gala by actor/director Henry Winkler, who played high school dropout “the Fonz” on the television show “Happy Days.”

Others will be slightly more subtle. The three-day, $3.7-million celebration will begin Saturday morning with a lesson in volunteerism. Starting at 9 a.m., Davis and his wife, Sharon, are to help the nonprofit organization L.A. Works spruce up Wilton Place School in Los Angeles.

By painting murals, constructing planters and cleaning up the Mid-Wilshire campus, the Davises will be, according to an inaugural committee statement, “illustrating the importance of community service to restoring and preserving the fabric of California.”

Feting of the new governor will conclude Monday night in Sacramento with dueling balls at the state fairgrounds: the traditional Inaugural Ball--the only black-tie event--and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Ball. Admission to these and other parties is by invitation.

Although attending the Inaugural Ball will set guests back $125, tickets to the gala cost as little as $25. Children get in free to Sunday afternoon’s Family Unity Celebration.

Sharon Davis, who has led the inaugural planning, said that keeping ticket prices below those of past celebrations was a key concern. “What we wanted was a very open celebration,” she said. “We priced them at a level that all people could participate.”

Donations to underwrite the cost of the events--no tax dollars will be used--have poured in from many of Davis’ campaign contributors, such as the California Teachers Assn., E&J; Gallo Winery and various Native American tribes.

Organizations that typically give to Republicans--including Davis’ gubernatorial challenger, state Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren--also pitched in. Among them were Arco, Hilton Hotels and Irvine Co.

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Between Saturday morning’s school cleanup and Monday night’s black-tie ball will be ample opportunity for the about 7,000 to 8,000 invited guests to mingle, rock on and pig out.

They are promised big-name acts: Kenny G, Lionel Ritchie, hip-hop artist Coolio. But guests also will be entertained throughout the three days by student groups from all 58 counties, ranging from a jazz choir from Northern California to a Native American choir from Riverside County.

Reaching out to groups that might have been excluded from past inaugurals also led to 50 sets of event tickets for participants in Amer-I-Can, a Los Angeles-based recovery program for youth offenders, run by former football star Jim Brown.

Such diversity is intended to “promote . . . unity, bringing people together,” Sharon Davis said.

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When they get together, they will eat. And eat and eat.

Five thousand hot dogs, 2,500 cups of ice cream, 100 cases of soda and a comparatively measly 500 lollipops will be served to an expected crowd of 2,500 Sunday afternoon at the most informal event, the Family Unity Celebration at the California Railroad Museum in Old Town Sacramento.

A similar menu--featuring hot dogs and the lollipops--is planned for the youth-oriented Rock ‘n’ Roll Ball on Monday night.

As to the more mature menus, the VIP reception scheduled before the Sunday night gala will serve such appetizers as “lemon grass salmon snuggled in puff pastry”; the post-inaugural luncheon for 800 of Davis’ closest compadres Monday will offer a salad topped with polenta croutons and bottles of California wine.

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Food donations are rolling into the capital from such California producers as Blue Diamond Growers, a 4,000-member almond grower cooperative in Salida, and the Herman Goelitz Candy Co. in Fairfield, home of Jelly Belly jellybeans. Six hundred long-stemmed white roses are being provided by the United Farm Workers union.

“They really went out of their way to get California foods, products, even Sharon’s dress--it’s made by a California designer,” said inaugural committee spokesman Andrew Govenar.

The celebrations will be a massive mobilization of manpower, with 350 volunteers added to hundreds of paid workers (heavy on union labor, of course).

Portable information booths are being set up at the diminutive Sacramento International Airport. Special shuttles will run from the five official hotels (all booked solid) to the various events. And to further Davis’ example-setting, the inaugural committee is relying on some natural gas-fueled rental cars and encouraging car-pooling.

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Monday morning’s swearing-in will be held in Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium, for reasons logistic--rain moved outgoing Gov. Pete Wilson’s two inaugurals from the Capitol steps--and philosophical.

The governor-elect, a Vietnam veteran, “feels it is particularly appropriate to honor all veterans by conducting this historic event at a place set aside to remember the sacrifice of so many Californians,” said Darius Anderson, the Inaugural Committee’s executive director.

To hear Times political, business and education writers’ audio analyses of the challenges facing Gov.-elect Gray Davis, go to the Times’ Web site: https://www.latimes.com/davis

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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Inaugural Celebrations

The installation of California’s 37th governor, Democrat Gray Davis, will occur after a series of parties and culminate in the oath of office Monday morning. All events are by invitation.

SATURDAY

9 a.m.

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Campus spruce-up

Wilton Place School, Los Angeles

6:30 p.m.

Los Angeles Unity Ball

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Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills

SUNDAY

10:30 a.m.

Ecumenical service

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Sacramento Convention Center Ballroom

2 p.m.

Family Unity Celebration

California State Railroad Museum

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Old Town Sacramento

7:30 p.m.

Inaugural Gala

Arco Arena, Sacramento

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Monday

10:30 a.m.

Oath of office

Sacramento Memorial Auditorium

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2 p.m.

Inaugural luncheon

Sacramento Convention Center

8 p.m.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Ball

California Exposition, Sacramento

9 p.m.

Inaugural Ball

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California Exposition

Source: California Inaugural Committee for Gray Davis


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