Thursday, January 22, 2009

TCH Report of our Inaugural Party

from Tri-Citians toast historic day (w/ video)

"I've never seen this many Democrats in one place in this county," joked David Chassin of Pasco while trying to squeeze through a crowd gathered at the Shilo Inn.

"They're not all Democrats," said Lyle Wilhelmi, 82, of Richland, who admitted he voted Republican lots of times years ago before moving from Oregon to the Tri-Cities. "I think some of them are Republican spies," he suggested.

But everyone there was focused on the 44th president.

Carol Moser, former member of the Richland City Council, led a toast for the crowd.

"This turnout is beyond our wildest expectations," she said.

Nathan Reyes of West Richland said he "woke up this morning feeling blessed (to have) an intelligent man as president who is going to fix our economy and everything that's crumbling under us."

Reyes' wife, Michelle, said she was encouraged by Obama's inaugural speech in which he called for Americans to work together regardless of color, creed, religion or politics.

"He wants to get us to a destination of change as a pragmatist," said Nathan Reyes' brother, Fitzgerald.

Arielle Eaton, 11, of West Richland, said she likes having a black president. "It's cool, and it's cool he's a dad because his kids get to live in the White House," she said.

Joel Staudinger, 11, of Pasco, said the new president is a good choice. "It's very good. He can turn the country around economically," he said.

"I think he's an organizer. He doesn't pretend to know everything, but he gets people together who do know," Wilhelmi said.

Michelle Reyes said President Obama offers change. "It won't be overnight, but it will be for the good. That's what I look forward to."

* John Trumbo: 509-582-1529; jtrumbo@tricityherald. com.

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