State planning low-key inaugural for Gov. Schaefer


Gov. William Donald Schaefer's inauguration for a second term in office isn't until Jan. 16, but state employees and volunteers already are busy planning what one participant said will be a "dignified and low-key affair."

Gubernatorial inaugurations traditionally are staid affairs in Maryland and planners say the upcoming ceremony will reflect that tradition even though Schaefer is known to enjoy fanfare and gimmicks. The inauguration is to start with a noon swearing-in ceremony in the Senate Chamber and continue with formal speeches on the rear steps of the State House. More than 1,000 invited guests and spectators are expected to crowd onto the narrow mall outside the State House, where they will be entertained by choral groups and military bands.

State law specifies that the inauguration is under the jurisdiction of the Maryland National Guard.

National Guard spokesman Col. Howard Freedlander said about $30,000 from the state Military Department budget will pay for the event, including the rental of sound equipment and printing of invitations and programs.

Inauguration planners, including members of Schaefer's staff, the Maryland State Police and the state Department of General Services, began meeting shortly after Schaefer and Lt. Gov. zTC Melvin A. Steinberg won re-election.

Planners say the governor instructed them about the tone he wants for the event. "He wants this to be a dignified and low-key affair. Those are our directions," said Freedlander.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 invitations will be mailed, said Freedlander, although attendance at past inaugurations usually peaked at around 1,000. Preliminary plans show that almost 700 seats will be set up for "official" guests and lawmakers and nearly 900 more seats for the public.

Dozens of volunteers have been recruited to help with addressing invitations and other pre-inaugural activities, according to Lainy M. LeBow, a top Schaefer aide who is coordinating inauguration plans.

While Schaefer and other dignitaries will be protected from bad weather under a heated tent, spectators will have to brave the elements if the weather turns nasty.

"We'll have it no matter what. We'll rough it out," said LeBow. "Let's just hope it's nice." She said hot coffee will be provided to spectators to help keep them warm.

In addition to choral groups from a number of state schools, the U.S. Naval Academy Band and the National Guard Band are to provide music.

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