Countless people will have traveled from near and far to be in the nation's capital tomorrow to witness Barack Obama take the oath of office, becoming the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American to hold that position in the country's 232-year history.
But you don't have to trek all the way to Washington, D.C., to find a party. Celebrations for the inauguration are planned right here on Long Island, as people gather around big-screen TVs at churches and restaurants to watch it, at luncheons and mixers to discuss it, and at casual parties and lavish dinners to toast it.
If you'd like to join the festivities, here are some of the public events:
WHERE Faith Baptist Church, 10 Teller Ave., Coram
WHEN 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. tomorrow
Beresford Adams, pastor of Faith Baptist Church and president of the NAACP's Brookhaven branch, invites Long Islanders to the church to watch the inauguration. Leon Lawrence, a member of the church, said he will be there watching on one of four big-screen TVs that will be set up in the sanctuary and the lower level.
"The whole community should have access to being a part of it that day," says Lawrence, who lists the inauguration among "momentous events" in U.S. and African-American history from the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which declared school segregation unconstitutional, to the 1963 March on Washington, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. "This is a historic occasion and a culmination of the first slaves who stepped onto American soil," Lawrence says.
WHERE Nakisaki International Restaurant, 276 Fulton Ave., Hempstead
WHEN 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday
PHONE 516-570-6645 (reservations suggested)
COST $25 ($15 for Urban League members)
The Urban League of Long Island will be hosting an inauguration viewing and a buffet lunch. The event will include a cash bar and a special inauguration gift basket raffle.
WHAT Cocktail reception
WHERE Château La Mer, 845 South Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst
WHEN 7-10 p.m. Tuesday
The NAACP's Islip Town Branch is inviting Long Islanders to network and celebrate history at the same time with drinks, hors d'oeuvres, dancing and a Champagne toast. The guest speaker is News 12's Ken Grimball. "For those who can't make it to Washington, the NAACP is taking the ball home, which will celebrate our past, present and future," says branch vice president Alicia Figueras.
WHAT Televised broadcast
WHERE Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington
WHEN Viewing starts at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow; doors open at 9:45 a.m.
COST Donation of a nonperishable food item or winter coat
The Cinema Arts Centre and Huntington Town officials are co-sponsoring a live broadcast of the inauguration and swearing-in ceremony on four screens at the popular movie house. Supervisor Frank Petrone will serve as emcee, and his co-host, Councilwoman Glenda Jackson, who is attending the inauguration, is expected give the crowd a firsthand account of the scene in Washington via conference call.
Seating for about 600 people will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Because of limited parking, attendees are asked to carpool, if possible.
A complimentary bus also will shuttle people to the theater from train station commuter parking lot No. 22, at Church Street and New York Avenue, in Huntington Station.
WHAT Green Drinks Long Island's "Change We Can Believe In" Inauguration Event
WHERE Black & Blue Seafood Chophouse, 65 Wall St., Huntington
WHEN 5-9 p.m. Thursday
COST $5 donation
Environmentally conscious Long Island residents and business professionals will mingle at this monthly networking event while also discussing the finer points of Obama's economic stimulus package.
Issues including energy independence, renewable energy technologies, public transportation and "green" jobs are of most importance as the new administration enters office, says Green Drinks Long Island president David Sibek.
WHAT "Obama's Inaugural: A New Beginning?"
WHERE Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 150 N. Centre Ave., Rockville Centre
WHEN 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28
The Rockville Centre Democratic Club is sponsoring an analysis and discussion of Obama's inaugural address led by Mary Anne Trasciatti, an associate professor in Hofstra University's Department of Speech Communication, Rhetoric and Performance Studies.
"I would hope she would analyze the content of the speech, the language in there and how he handles himself during the speech, and then during the discussion people will give their own impressions," says Jean Brett-Leach, the club's outgoing co-president.
WHAT Long Island Inaugural Ball
WHERE Carltun on the Park in Eisenhower Park, East Meadow
WHEN 7-11 p.m. tomorrow, cocktail hour at 7 p.m. followed by dinner and dancing
COST $65, reservations required
Several local residents formed the Long Island Citizens Inaugural Committee 2009 and are putting on a black-tie gala in the Carltun's grand ballroom.
"It is truly designed to be a community celebration," says committee chairman Rodney Brown of Baldwin. "People need an alternative to going to Washington. ... But more than that, we need to celebrate this historic event and give the community an opportunity to be involved."
Guests will feast on macadamia, onion and herb-encrusted salmon and roasted chicken in porcini mushroom sauce, enjoy music and other entertainment and sip on free beer, wine and Champagne. They will watch clips of the inauguration ceremony broadcast, and the committee will honor local "unsung heroes" active in education and community service.
After expenses, Brown says all other money will go to Barack Obama Elementary School in Hempstead.
WHAT Inauguration party
WHERE Participating T.G.I. Friday's restaurants
T.G.I. Friday's is planning the "World's Largest Inauguration Party" at more than 920 of its restaurants in more than 62 countries around the world. At participating restaurants, including 10 on Long Island, customers can take part in the "Toast Heard 'Round the World," and receive half-priced appetizers during dinner hours. Specifics vary by location.