Iowa’s first couple hosted their annual “spring fling” on the grounds of Terrace Hill, the governor’s mansion, on Sunday. In “spring flings” of the past, First Lady Christie Vilsack has had her husband wear a Winnie the Pooh outfit, and one year he was the Scarecrow from the “Wizard of Oz.”
This year, Governor Tom Vilsack was dressed as “the ringmaster.” “This was the outfit that Christie picked for me,” Vilsack said, laughing. The costume was chosen because it’s one of the characters in a Dr. Seuss book. “This is an opportunity for us to focus on the circus,” Vilsack says “Most youngsters love the circus and we’ve got clowns and animals…It’s a continuation of our efforts to promote reading.”
Mrs. Vilsack was dressed as an equestrian acrobat — but she had no horse. “Somebody asked me the other day where my horse was or if I’d been practicing with the horse,” Mrs. Vilsack said. “Maybe on one of these little ponies that’s around here, I might be able to get up on one of those and ride around.” Mid-afternoon, Iowa’s First Couple read the Seuss book, “If I Ran the Circus” to the crowd. “I did go to the circus when I was young and loved all of the acts. I just love people and all of the festivity that goes along with the circus,” Mrs. Vilsack said. “And life sometimes is a three-ring circus, especially for us, so I thought this was very appropriate.”
The governor agreed with that, but denied a desire to win the title of political ringmaster. “I’ve enjoyed the circus but never wanted to be in charge of the elephants and the horses and the trapeze people,” Vilsack said. “You’ve never wanted to be in charge of the elephants and the donkeys?” Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson asked. Vilsack replied: “No. No. No. No. Nice try.”
Governor Vilsack was festooned in a black suit, with a brightly-colored satin vest and a black, stove-pipe hat like President Abraham Lincoln used to wear. While Lincoln often carried speeches in his hat, Vilsack’s hat contained no political speech for the day.