Story last updated at 1/28/2009 - 11:05 am
JUNEAU - Alaskans joined the nation in celebrating Barack Obama's inauguration Jan. 20. Hundreds gathered at organized events in Anchorage and Juneau to watch the celebration on big-screen televisions, while thousands more came to a standstill at homes and businesses across the state to watch the historic event.
Hundreds of others traveled to Washington, D.C., to represent the state, including students, Alaska Native dancers and a former Miss Alaska.
Maryline Blackburn, the 1984 Miss Alaska, was scheduled to represent the state by performing at a pair of inaugural dances in Washington, D.C. The former Fairbanks resident, who currently lives in Atlanta, planned to sing at the Legends Ball, hosted by Dionne Warwick, and the Urban Ball, hosted by rapper Ludacris. Blackburn planned to sing a song she wrote called, "Stand Together Now."
"I was a part of history 25 years ago, and I am a part of history in the making once again," she told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "I am absolutely excited to be involved in welcoming the first African-American president of the United States."
More than 1,200 Alaskans crowded into Centennial Hall in Juneau to watch the inauguration of President Obama.
The "Breakfast with the President" event was billed as bipartisan, but many in the standing room only crowd cheered wildly and often throughout the ceremony, beamed onto a large screen.
"This is once in a lifetime, to be able to participate in something that has such importance," Carolyn Noe, an Alaska Native who wore a traditional Tlingit vest sporting her family crest, told the Associated Press.
"The big change that is going on now is once in a lifetime for a lot of people," she said.
The gathering was a true community event, with people bringing potluck breakfast items, everything from muffins and rolls to quiche and salmon strips.
A special "Obama blend" of coffee was also available, billed as a half-Kenyan and half-Hawaiian blend.
Other inaugural viewing events were held across the state, and one at the University of Alaska Anchorage drew almost 1,000 people.