Politics & Government

Inauguration Day offers public opportunity to worship and party with new governor

State workers prepared a review stand for new Gov. Matt Bevin to watch the parade on Inauguration Day.
State workers prepared a review stand for new Gov. Matt Bevin to watch the parade on Inauguration Day. Herald-Leader

A spectacle-filled day for Matt Bevin will start at midnight Tuesday morning with a private swearing-in ceremony as Kentucky’s 62nd governor in the Capitol Rotunda and end more than 20 hours later with a Grand March in the Capitol.

Sandwiched in on Inauguration Day will be a morning worship service at the Frankfort Convention Center; a parade down Capital Avenue with 67 units and Medal of Honor Recipient Dakota Meyer as grand marshal; a public swearing-in ceremony on the Capitol steps; and a welcome party and bluegrass festival at the Kentucky History Center with singer Ricky Skaggs.

All the events will be public except the midnight swearing-in and a reception before the 2 p.m. public swearing-in on the Capitol steps for platform guests.

How much it will cost to produce the events won’t be known until early January. Coal executive Joe Craft and Republican fundraiser Kelly Knight are chairs of the Inaugural Committee, which is raising private funds for the day.

Bevin has said Craft and Knight “are planning an inauguration that will make us all proud to be Kentuckians.”

Kenny Bishop, inaugural events coordinator, said in an interview Thursday that the private swearing-in ceremony for Bevin and his lieutenant governor, Jenean Hampton, will be for family and friends.

That ceremony will install the Republicans as the state’s top two elected officials, replacing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen. Bevin is the second GOP governor of Kentucky in about 40 years.

One of Bevin’s first official acts will be to name an adjutant general to preside over the Kentucky National Guard.

Bishop said several religious leaders will participate in the swearing-in ceremonies, including Dave Stone, senior pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, which Bevin attends, and the Rev. Carl E. Whitfield of 11th Street Baptist Church in Bowling Green, which Hampton attends. Other religious leaders on hand, he said, include Bob Russell, former senior pastor at Southeast; Senior Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport of Louisville; and the Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville.

The public worship service will run from 8:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the downtown convention center. Gospel singer Larnelle Harris, Southeast’s Master’s Men Choir and a children’s choir from Buck Run Baptist Church in Franklin County are scheduled to perform. The Kentucky State University Concert Choir will also sing, continuing a long-held inaugural tradition.

The parade, led by Meyer, will begin at 10 a.m., traveling up Capital Avenue to the Capitol.

In 2011, Meyer, a native of Columbia, was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States. He was the first living U.S. Marine in 41 years to be so honored.

The parade will honor Vietnam and Korean War veterans, as well as fallen Kentucky first responders, said parade coordinator Renee Craddock.

A Fallen Officers Memorial Unit will pay special tribute to four Kentucky police officers who have died this year. Four lines will march in missing-man formation behind a bagpiper and drummer. The formation will be in memory of: Officer Daniel Ellis, Richmond Police Department; Officer Burke Rhoads, Nicholasville Police Department; Trooper Eric Chrisman, Kentucky State Police; and Trooper Cameron Ponder, Kentucky State Police.

An ambulance from the Jessamine County EMS will be included in the parade to honor paramedic John Mackey, who died earlier this year. The Allen Volunteer Fire Department from Floyd County will participate to honor their chief, Billy Ray Jarvis, who also died this year.

The final unit in the parade will be a Veterans Celebration, led by Donnie Jenkins, a Kentucky Medal of Honor Recipient from Vietnam. The Holmes High School ROTC will usher in a 45-foot flat-bed float carrying Vietnam and Korean War Veterans. As they arrive at the viewing stand, Bevin is to personally thank them for their service.

All former governors have been invited to attend the public swearing-in ceremony at 2 p.m. in front of the Capitol. Bishop said so far only former Gov. Julian Carroll has said he will not be able to attend.

The ceremony also will feature special music, including country singer Lee Greenwood.

The welcome party will start at 4 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Kentucky History Center. It is a tradition for Frankfort and Franklin County officials, along with the local tourism and convention commission, to welcome the incoming governor and his family to the community.

Immediately following the welcome ceremony, guests will move to the Kentucky History Center’s Cralle Day Garden, where Skaggs and several other Kentucky musicians will perform.

Skaggs, a native of Cordell, is a 14-time Grammy Award winner. His music spans across country, bluegrass and gospel genres.

Also performing at the event will be Timber and Nails, a bluegrass and gospel quartet from Sandy Hook, and Kentucky Mountain Trio, a bluegrass and gospel trio from Somerset.

Food will be available for purchase from local food trucks during the celebration.

The Grand March in the Capitol begins at 7 p.m. It is the traditional welcome of the governor and first lady, lieutenant governor and spouse, constitutional officers, cabinet members and legislators. Black tie is optional.

More information about Inaugural events is available at www.governorbevin.com.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics