Despite showman reputation, Trump
inauguration shaping up as low-key
Send a link to a friend
[January 18, 2017]
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump made
his name with opulent hotels and a dramatic reality TV show, but his
inauguration on Friday as the 45th U.S. president is shaping up as a
more understated affair, with big names in entertainment staying away.
Like those who came before him, Trump will take his oath on the steps of
the U.S. Capitol building and lead a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue,
but there will be fewer official balls and less glitz and celebrity
talent to welcome in the new president.
Inaugurations have been star-studded affairs since 1941, when President
Franklin Roosevelt held a gala with actors Charlie Chaplin, Mickey
Rooney and other stars of the era, said Jim Bendat, a historian who has
written a book on U.S. inaugurations.
But this year, several singers – including Elton John and Charlotte
Church – declined invitations to perform at inaugural events. Trump, a
New York businessman and former star of "The Apprentice" TV show, won
with a populist platform that included promises to build a wall along
the Mexican border, restrict immigration from Muslim countries and
Broadway star Jennifer Holliday said yes to performing, but backed down
after a backlash from fans.
"You can't really find precedent for that," Bendat said in an interview.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, singer Jackie Evancho and the Rockettes
dancing troupe are among those slated to perform, although individual
Rockettes will be allowed to opt out of performing if they so choose.
Trump's inaugural committee has said it is intentionally avoiding top
"We're fortunate in that we have the greatest celebrity in the world,
which is the president-elect," Tom Barrack, inaugural committee
chairman, told reporters at Trump Tower in New York last week.
"So what we've done, instead of trying to surround him with what people
consider A-listers, is we are going to surround him with the soft
sensuality of the place," Barrack said.
Trump is slated to attend three official galas. Other modern
inaugurations have had around 10 official balls, which the president and
first lady would attend in rapid succession, typically dancing during
Then-President Bill Clinton held a record 14 balls during his 1997
inauguration, Bendat said.
On Thursday, a series of choirs and marching bands will perform at the
Lincoln Memorial, followed by a concert featuring country music star
[to top of second column]
Preparations are finalized on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol,
where Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as America's 45th president,
in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler
Trump, who is entering office with unusually low approval ratings,
has repeatedly pushed back against reports that his inauguration may
be lacking in star power or have low attendance.
"People are pouring into Washington in record numbers," Trump said
on Twitter on Tuesday. "Bikers for Trump are on their way. It will
be a great Thursday, Friday and Saturday!"
Officials expect about 800,000 spectators for the events – down from
the estimated 1.8 million who flocked to Washington for Obama’s 2009
Just 40 percent of Americans said they had a favorable view of Trump
versus 55 percent who had an unfavorable view, according to a Gallup
poll taken from Jan. 4 to Jan. 8.
At a similar point before he took office in 2009, Obama was viewed
favorably by 78 percent of Americans. Before taking office in 2001,
President George W. Bush had a 62 percent favorable rating,
according to the Gallup data.
"What is most likely to distinguish Trump's inauguration is the
number of protesters," said Brian Balogh, co-host of American
history radio show BackStory.
The National Parks Service has granted permits to protest for 27
groups. On Saturday, the National Mall will draw what organizers
estimate will be about 200,000 people to a Women’s March to protest
The Women's March, which is expected to be the largest protest, is
aimed at bringing attention to human and civil rights issues.
Honorary co-chairs of the protest include activist Gloria Steinem
and actor Harry Belafonte.
(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.