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     Inauguration: A ceremonial induction into office. – Merriam Webster Dictionary

“Are we going to the inauguration in Pierre?”

I was caught off guard by the question.

You’d think after more than 45 years of marriage, I’d be able to foresee what might be asked by the innovative side of the partnership.

I didn’t know you were interested, I said, trying to sidestep the question.

Her inquiry, as it turned out, was more about if I wanted to go than her own desire to attend.

It’s been 32 years since George Mickelson was installed as the state’s 28th governor in 1987, and we wanted to be part of the state’s celebration.

Even though Mickelson had narrowly won a tough race the previous November against the popular Lars Herseth, the state seemed to come together in welcoming the Mickelsons to the governor’s mansion and as chief executive for the state. Much of that could be attributed to Mickelson’s personality and approach to governing. He was open, affable and interested in considering ideas for South Dakota regardless of their political origin.

The Inaugural Ball was an array of receiving lines, dancing, congratulatory messages, the grand march, and men and women dressed in their best attire. (I opted not to rent a tuxedo and I think I was in the majority.)

It may have been the second inauguration attended by members of my family. In  1958, after Ralph Herseth was elected governor, discussion around the family dinner table was about Mom and Dad going to the January event. Since Mom’s brother, John Frank Lindley, was elected lieutenant governor, it was an easy decision. And a good one, too, since the Herseth/Lindley team lost its bid for re-election and as almost all South Dakotans know, inaugurations for Democrat governors are rare.

Gov.-elect Kristi Noem’s celebration is Saturday and after she takes her oath of office at 11 a.m., festivities will begin in earnest. The Capitol Ball starts at 6:30 p.m. in the State Capitol, followed by the Grand March at 7.  It’s open to the public but not free. Tickets are $25.

The Inaugural Ball begins at 8 p.m. at the Ramkota River Centre and the Grand March follows at 9. Tickets are the same, $25 per person.

This year’s inauguration is unique. Noem is the first female governor of our state. It’s her first major event, and if her governorship over the next four years even approaches that of Gov. Mickelson, it will be judged a success.

Jan. 2, 2019