State is mobilizing for inaugural festivities

The transition that will culminate Wednesday in Hartford with a 19-gun salute and the inauguration of Gov. Dan Malloy is already well under way.

The stage is being erected in the Armory, where Malloy will take the oath as Connecticut's 88th governor.

The National Guard is preparing the salute and the flyover of UH60 Blackhawk helicopters.

And the First Company Governor's Foot Guard is preparing to host the party to follow: an inaugural ball at the Connecticut Convention Center.

Malloy, a Democrat, defeated Republican Tom Foley in November to become the first member of his party since William A. O'Neill in 1986 to win a governor's race.

Malloy's running mate, Comptroller Nancy Wyman, will beat him into office on Wednesday. Wyman will be sworn in as lieutenant governor in a 10 a.m. ceremony in the chamber of the state Senate, over which the lieutenant governor presides.

Change is not just impending but afoot, as Wyman told a packed reception in New London last week, when a man called out from the crowd to tell her she was "a great comptroller."

"I just found out they took my name off the envelopes already," Wyman exclaimed. "I thought that was really funny. I just heard that on the way in. I'm depressed!"

"If Jodi Rell resigns when I get sworn in, I could be governor for an hour," she added, referring to the outgoing Republican incumbent, who declined to run for a second full term in office.

In fact, it would be a little longer than that: Malloy won't take the oath until after 2 p.m.

The inauguration will be as festive as Rell's initial festivities in the summer of 2004, when she took over after Republican Gov. John G. Rowland resigned in the midst of a corruption scandal.

After Wyman is sworn in, she and Malloy will head an inaugural parade beginning at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park, down Trinity Street and Capitol Avenue to the massive stone Armory.

After Malloy takes the oath and delivers an inaugural speech in the Armory's main hall, he and the platform party will head outside to receive the traditional "ruffles and flourishes" from the Guard, followed by the salute and fly-over.

Later in the afternoon, Malloy will give a second speech to a combined session of the General Assembly.

Malloy takes office at a time when other governors are struggling to gauge the appropriate degree of inaugural ceremony, especially as millions remain out of work or otherwise burdened by the lasting effects of the recent recession.

In Michigan, the Associated Press reported that Gov.-elect Rick Snyder will limit the number of inaugural events he attends to one, with the $1.3 million budget raised, like that for Malloy's reception, from private donors, not taxpayers. That is in contrast, the AP noted, to outgoing Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's 15 inaugural bashes in 15 days when she took office in 2003.

In Rhode Island, another state hard-hit by the recession, Gov.-elect Lincoln Chafee released to the press a list of state companies and organizations that are helping to underwrite his inaugural events, including CVS Caremark and Cox Communications, which gave $10,000 each toward the $55,000 total.

A spokeswoman for Malloy's transition team, Colleen Flanagan, noted that only part of the inaugural festivities would be paid for by the state.

"Aside from the actual swearing-in ceremony, the only other event paid for with state funds is the parade," Flanagan said in an e-mail message. "As such, the incoming Administration has chosen to shorten the parade route which will cut down the bottom line in terms of security personnel and other costs. We're working with the Connecticut State Police, the City of Hartford and the State Capitol Police to make sure people who choose to view the parade are safe and secure."

Asked for the total budget for the inauguration, Flanagan said the event's "final cost has not been tabulated."

The inaugural ball, which is hosted by the Foot Guard, "is completely separate and not paid for with state funds," Flanagan said.

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