Baltimore City

Mayor Catherine Pugh closes inaugural festivities with an evening celebration with around 1,500 guests

Catherine E. Pugh, who was sworn in Tuesday morning as Baltimore's 50th mayor, closed a rainy day of inaugural activities with an evening celebration of dancing and dining at the Hilton.

Doors opened at 7 p.m. and local politicians, businesspeople, and community members dressed in cocktail attire quickly filled the room for the Baltimore-centric party.


About 1,500 guests attended, including Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, social activist Kwame Rose, executive director of Center of Black Equity Carlton Ray Smith, and Baltimore Comptroller Joan M. Pratt.

Music rotated between live performances by local music group Panama Band and a DJ, and slideshow installations displayed images of Pugh, city residents and a backdrop of Baltimore neighborhoods.


Even the food stations had Baltimore ties, according to James Howard, an assistant banquet manager. The pasta station was referred to as "Little Italy;" the antipasti stations with an array of meats, cheeses, pita bread and hummus were nicknamed "Greektown;" and the nacho bars with different toppings took on a ballpark-concessions theme — a nod to the city's deep-rooted appreciation for baseball.

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young described the night as "grand," and said it was "nice to bring the community together."

"People are happy and excited for the work we're going to do together," Young said. "We're going to work to get it done."

Tickets to the party were sold for $100 each. A spokesman for Pugh said the money would pay for the event and any surplus would be donated to charity.

Rep. Elijah Cummings entered the party around 8 p.m., stressing that Tuesday marked an important time for Baltimore.

"After going through disturbances and the trials of Freddie Gray, we have Cathy Pugh to take the helm," he said.

He noted that Pugh has spoken about the aspects needed to "bring out the best in the city and make it a shining light for other cities to emulate." More than ever, he said, the city needs to concentrate on unity, "especially with the backdrop of Trump in office, it's more important."

Maj. Sabrina Tapp-Harper of the city Sheriff's Office attended on behalf of her department to support the new mayor, she said.


"While it's a challenging time for law enforcement, it's also an exciting time," she said.

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"And with some of the things facing law enforcement, it's going to take the cooperation of the city to see overall improvement moving forward."

At about 8:30 p.m. Pugh was ushered into the banquet room donning a red Zac Posen evening gown while "Crazy in Love" by Beyonce blasted through the speakers. Some guests welcomed her with hugs while others followed her to the stage with their cellphones in the air.

"I wish you all could see what I can see from up here," she said after an introduction by Rep. Cummings. "You look beautiful."

Pugh encouraged guests to dance and have a good time, but made it known that her work starts Wednesday.

"I said to [Joan Pratt] and I said to President Young that we are going to work in the morning. We are going to work for you. We are your public servants," she said before a cheering crowd, adding that she will work on behalf of citizens to create a more inclusive, diverse community with lower crime rates and an improved public education system.


"I'm looking forward to being your mayor," she said, thanking guests, her staff, city council members and "everyone who had anything to do with making my inauguration one of the best inaugurations in the world."

And then she closed with what might be her first demand as mayor: "Turn that music up."