Residents plan celebration around inauguration

By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer

As Barack Obama places his hand on the family bible and gives the oath of office in a historic presidential inauguration thousands of miles away from Roosevelt County Tuesday, a small band of local Obama campaign volunteers will gather in a Portales home to watch the occasion.

Portales resident Andy Mason knocked on doors and made phone calls for the Obama campaign last fall and after celebrating a victorious election night, he anticipates watching the historic moment.

“We invited a lot of people over (to our house) on election night, and we’re inviting over the same people for the inauguration to celebrate,” Mason said.

With inauguration tickets reportedly being scalped online for thousands of dollars, the event was a no-brainer for Mason.

“That’s why we’re having the party,” Mason said. “That’s why we’re inviting people over because we want to share the celebration with everybody.”

The bunch anticipates watching their choice for president of the United States in the historic moment, without worrying about the crowds, the traffic and the cold.

“We could enjoy it better, just watching it from home with close friends who were working on the campaign with us,” Mason’s girlfriend Anne Jezek said.

Mason expects about 20 party-goers.

“I’ve never stopped to watch an inauguration before,” Mason said. “I’ve never felt part of the process of making it happen. Both of us feel involved because we worked to make it happen.”

“I was part of this. I felt important,” Jezek said. “It feels like a little piece of this is mine.”

Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sharon King was invited to the bash, but work duties will prevent her from attending.

“I’ll be very proud of our country,” King said. “I think this is a huge leap forward to have elected an African-American for the first time in history and I think he is a very wise choice.”

King always knew that America would elect a black president in her life time, but “I didn’t really expect it to be this soon,” she said.

On election night, Roosevelt County voted overwhelmingly for the Republican candidate for president, John McCain, but Obama earned New Mexico’s five electoral votes en route to his victorious night.

“This was a big victory for our country and we feel like we were a small part of it,” Mason said. “We’re going to watch the scenes unfold on television. We’re excited to watch the moment the Bush reign ends and a new era begins with President Obama.”