On Tuesday night, over 500 people will gather for what organizers believe is the first-ever Inaugural Ball in the Quad Cities.
Cathy Bolkcom of LeClaire is one of the women who’s been planning the event. "I’m a community organizer here in the Quad Cities along with a woman named Sue Golden. I’ve been active primarily on the Iowa side and she’s been very active on the Illinois side…We were having lunch in December and talking about the fact that going to D.C. to go to the inauguration — we did not think that would be a lot of fun because of the anticipated crowds and all," Bolkcom says. "And we said: ‘Oh, we should have a party here.’"
The two came up with a theme for their event, too, focusing on the two states which meet in the Quad Cities. "Our theme is: ‘It All Started Here,’" Bolkcom says. "Illinois sent Barack Obama to the senate and it’s agreed by all the experts that Iowa launched (Obama) to the presidency."
Bolkcom endorsed Obama in the spring of 2007 and stood for him on January 3, 2008 in the Iowa Caucuses. "We take a lot of pride and ownership in the fact because many, many people in the Quad Cities worked very hard for the past two years to see this day come," she says.
Golden — the Rock Island, Illinois, woman who is cosponsoring the Quad Cities Inaugural Ball — has been a community organizer and political activist for 60 years. Bolkcom has been a community organizer for 30 years and is founder of a Quad Cities group called "Progressive Action for the Common Good."
"One of the things we’re celebrating at the ball is community organizing," Bolkcom says. "I think the other reason Barack Obama is president today is because he’s a community organizer and he had an organization like we’d never seen before and It’s clear that he believes that community organizing is a way to change this country and this administration is not going to be what we’d normally see. He’s going to call us, the people, to be the change and I think he’s serious about that and I think he obviously knows how to do that."
The ball is being held at the River Center in Davenport and guests have been encouraged to dress for the occasion. "We have made it clear that they don’t have to because some of the men, in particular, don’t want to, but the women will be dressing (up)," Bolkcom says. "I have bought a dress for the ball and I’ve talked to so many women who don’t normally get dressed up who have bought dresses and they’re getting their hair done — and so we’re taking full opportunity to celebrate in grand style here in the Quad Cities."
Tickets to the Quad Cities Inaugural Ball cost $40. The two women sold sponsorships to local individuals and businesses, too, to help defray costs. If they have any money left over after paying rent for the hall, paying the musicians and paying for the food that will be served, they’ll donate the rest to a local food pantry. The opening act for the night will be a jazz quartet, then the band "Superfly Samurai" will play from nine ’til midnight.