High school senior attends inauguration

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 1/28/97.

It was a trip of a lifetime for Ryan Louis, a Paynesville Area High School senior. He was invited to attend the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference Jan. 16 to 21 and President Clintonís inauguration.

An alumni of the Washington Youth Leadership Conference, he was invited to attend the inauguration. ďThe first 400 alumni to respond got to attend,Ē Louis said. Of course, he sent in his reply almost immediately. There were six alumni attending from Minnesota.

As part of the inaugural conference, the alumni were invited to the Youth Ball. ďThe ball was sold out before inauguration day,Ē Louis said. ďThe music was awesome. It provided the best entertainment of all the balls.Ē There were 14 balls that night. Entertainment included LLCool J, Jewel, and Liquid Soul, to name a few.

Among their speakers Louis heard Jeff Rouse, Olympic gold medal swimmer who broke two world records; Chet Edwards, DFLer from Texas on Capitol Hill and Michael McCurry, assistant to the president, tell of Clintonís daily routine. At the Press Club, they heard Jane Carney of the Washington Times, Jill Dougherty, CNN News, Gwen Ifill, NBC News, and Helen Thomas, UPI.

On Friday, Louis picked up his tickets for the inauguration. He was told to come back three different times and received three different tickets for the inner standing area: north, south and west. Louis said he ended standing in the south area about 100 yards from the podium.

While in Washington the alumni visited the Capitol Mall which was filled with tents. ďIt was like a big fair or festival,Ē Louis said. He was able to get front row center tickets to ďBetter Than EzraĒ concert. ďThe concert was awesome,Ē he added. At the Kennedy Center reception he saw ďSheer Madness,Ē which he enjoyed thoroughly.

The alumni were also given a boat ride on the Potomac. The boat was a large barge with a glass roof, two dance halls, food bars and booths. ďIt was really classy,Ē Louis said. They also got to watch the fireworks from the barge through the glass roof.

Louis enjoyed the inauguration ball the most as Vice-President Al Gore and President Clinton both made an appearance between 12:30 and 1 a.m. Gore walked into the ballroom first and talked with those attending, acknowledging the alumni in attendance. ďWhen the band didnít leave, we knew something big was going to happen, then the band started playing Hail to the Chief,Ē Louis said.

ďIt was like ďwowĒ,Ē Louis said. ďWhen he walked into the ball, politics took a back seat and everybody was united for the one-day celebration.Ē Louis said the president was only about seven feet from him. Louis said he and his friends left the ball too soon, as Chelsey Clinton and her friends arrived a short time later.

ďAt the inauguration, security was tight. They hand search everybodyís bags and people had to walk through a metal detector. The lines were really long, waiting to get into your designated areas. After a while people were jumping over fences to get where they wanted to go,Ē Louis said. ďA person could see snipers positioned on the Capitol roof and on other buildings during the inauguration.Ē

Louis said one alumni from Green Bay was given an autographed football by the Packers to present to the president. She wasnít able to make the presentation, so kept the football herself.

Another memorable event of the weekend for Louis was the opportunity to meet three medal of honor winners.

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