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Trump Inauguration Draws Fans, Foes From Pacific Northwest

Tom Banse/Emily Schwing
Northwest News Network
Abby Frye of Portland, left, and Monika Wachowiak of Spokane are both traveling to Washington, D.C., for Donald Trump's inauguration, but for different reasons.

This Friday's Presidential Inauguration festivities in Washington, DC, are drawing Donald Trump fans and foes alike from the Pacific Northwest. Large contingents from the area will be on the National Mall Friday and again on Saturday.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather around the west front of the U.S. Capitol and spill down the National Mall to see Donald Trump become the nation's 45th president. Monika Wachowiak of Spokane is planning to be there wearing her red Make America Great Again ball cap. She was proudly sporting that hat at a quirky coffee shop in Spokane before leaving for the other Washington.

"Trump is going to be a president like none other. He broke the mold,” Wachowiak said. “I'm excited just to be a part of something so huge and that is going to make history."

Wachowiak is a 36-year-old, tattooed Jewish Republican. She works as a property manager and volunteers on campaigns and as a Spokane GOP district leader in her spare time. Her excitement about scoring tickets to the inauguration, three inaugural balls and finding an affordable flight and hotel in suburban Maryland is tempered a little bit by uncertainty about what crazy stuff might happen.

"I kind of know what to expect from being at big events in D.C. like a Darfur rally and things like that,” Wachowiak said. “But I'm a little nervous because of everything coming around it -- with all the protests, the marches.”

‘I need go to the march'

It’s not only Trump supporters who are making the trek to Washington, D.C. from the Northwest. A number of protesters are also heading there this week for a different event.

Abby Frye is a 31-year-old clinical pharmacist from Portland. Like Wachowiak, she committed within days of the November election to fly to the nation's capital.

"I think like a lot of people I woke up the day after the election and was shocked and surprised,” Frye said. “A friend sent me a Facebook event about the march in D.C. Right away, my initial reaction was I need to go there. I need go to the march and be there for that."

Frye also convinced her mother to join her for the Women's March on Washington on the day after the formal inauguration. Frye hopes it will be a "positive," momentum-creating event.

"This feels like a time where we can really have our collective voice as women heard,” Frye said. “Even though we all have different issues that matter the most to us or different motivations, I think it can be really inspiring to other women, kind of show our collective voice, show how much power we have."

Christine Chin Ryan of Sandy, Oregon, made inauguration travel reservations before the November election thinking that Hillary Clinton would win. Since she had the plane tickets, she decided "it was meant" for her to go to the national Women’s March on Washington on Saturday.

"I want to tell the Trump administration and the Republicans they do not have a mandate when Hillary won by almost three million votes,” Chin Ryan said.

Chin Ryan was a Clinton delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. She is a veteran Democratic activist, 61-years-old and Chinese American.

"I'm ready to fight him because I just don't think his policies are going to be good for the United States of America,” Chin Ryan said. “I'm an immigrant and this is like the best country in the whole world."

Chin Ryan said a main reason she's going to march is to demonstrate solidarity. The women's march is shaping up to be the largest of the inauguration protests in D.C. Advance registration is voluntary, so it's hard to say how many marchers will come from the Pacific Northwest. Local organizers in Oregon and Washington state estimate hundreds from each state will make the trip East.

‘Are they going to clash?’

Meanwhile, members of Congress from Oregon and Washington collectively doled out more than 3,000 free tickets to constituents wishing to attend the Trump swearing in and inaugural address. In the blue state of Washington, demand for tickets was substantially lower than for President Obama's two inaugurations according to Sen. Maria Cantwell's press secretary Bryan Watt.

"So there are going to be so many protesters there,” Wachowiak said. “There are going to be so many supporters there... Are they going to clash? Are they going to be friends?"

The marchers I spoke to said they plan to stay away from the swearing in ceremony, the parade and inaugural balls.

Republican State Sen. Doug Ericksen of Ferndale, Washington, who was deputy director of Donald Trump's Washington state campaign, is bringing his whole family to take it all in, including two school-age daughters.

"I've never been to an inauguration before in Washington, D.C. The family hasn't been back there. It'll be a great learning experience for the kids, for myself,” Ericksen said. “We're just really excited to be a part of history."

A half dozen high schools from Washington and Idaho are sending students for that very reason too.

One event that strives to bring partisans of all stripes together is the Western states inaugural ball on Saturday night. The non-partisan state societies in Washington, D.C., for Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana and Colorado are co-organizing this ball. But from what I can tell, those in the mood to dance the night away are mostly Republicans, some lobbyists and Capitol Hill staffers.

The $100 ticket price for the "Best of the West" soiree makes it the most affordable inaugural ball this year, according to the Washington Post. Funk band Pebble to Pearl is slated to provide the live music.

No groups from Washington state, Oregon, Idaho or Alaska were selected to march in Friday's Inaugural Parade.

More Northwest connections

The Oregon and Washington State Republican Party organizations are both bringing delegations to Trump's inauguration, led by state party Chairman Bill Currier of Oregon and Chairman Susan Hutchison of Washington respectively. The attendees also include major donors such as southwest Washington billionaire Ken Fisher.

The Boeing Company is sending "a small number" of officials to the inauguration, according to a spokesman. Boeing pledged $1 million to Trump's presidential inaugural committee, the same amount it donated in 2012 to help underwrite President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

Republican Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and First Lady Lori Otter have also RSVP'd for the inauguration.

The Women's March in D.C. is attracting its share of regional notables. Outgoing Interior Secretary Sally Jewell of Seattle said she plans to march as will Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur. Democratic Oregon State Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward tweeted an RSVP for herself and her daughters. Oregon Democratic Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer used social media to announce her planned attendance at the march as well.

Women who can't make it to the national march have organized companion events in eight Oregon cities and at least nine Washington state locations on this coming Saturday.

Reporter Emily Schwing in Spokane contributed to this report.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.