EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 16, 2009

Locals on the inauguration: 'We're all a part of it'

Schools, businesses, libraries planning events

For $8.50 each, up to 270 schoolchildren can watch Barack Obama inaugurated as president at Chunky's Cinema Pub in Haverhill next Tuesday.

Northern Essex Community College will show the 44th president's speech live on its Lawrence and Haverhill campuses, and professors will be around for discussions afterward.

And children at Haverhill's Nettle School will get red, white and blue Tootsie Rolls.

Past inaugurations have been merely a footnote in history for most. But anticipation is mounting for Tuesday's inauguration, which begins at 11:30 a.m.

People will see the first African-American to be sworn in as commander in chief. They will see a Democrat take back the West Wing after eight years of Republican rule. They will bid farewell to President George W. Bush, whose popularity plummeted while the country waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the economy sank.

"Certainly there's an awareness and an excitement around this inauguration that I haven't seen before. And there's a feeling from the adults and the students of somehow being connected to it — that we're all a part of it," said Eric Juli, director of secondary curriculum for Lawrence public schools.

Clare Curran, teen reference librarian at Andover's Memorial Hall Library, expects 40 12- to 18-year-olds to show up for a free party after school from 3 to 5 p.m. They'll have presidential trivia and bingo, with prizes like patriotic rubber ducks and Tootsie Rolls wrapped in American flags.

"We're going to have flags and snacks and a festive sort of atmosphere," said Curran.

Chunky's, a Haverhill movie theater that offers full meals, will show the inauguration live on all three of its big screens. Vice President Jimmy Nagel said the company e-mailed between 600 and 900 teachers around the region, inviting them to take a field trip there for the event. For $8.50, students can watch history unfold while sipping soda and eating pizza and ice cream. Nagel did not have a list of schools that responded to the invitation earlier this week.

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