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32 year-old tradition takes a break due to weather

January 13, 1997
By: Andy Kravetz
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Mel Carnahan broke tradition Monday and that was fine with just about everyone - including the man who set the tradition that Carnahan broke.

Frigid temperatures Friday caused Carnahan to cancel the inaugural parade and hold the ceremony inside the capitol Rotunda for the first time since Gov. Warren Hearnes was sworn into office in 1961.

"When you're 73, like me, you like it inside. When you're 41, you like it outside," said Hearnes who sat on the inaugural platform with other former state officials.

While agreeing the governor's decision for this year's inauguration, Hearnes said he preferred the precedent he started of holding inaugurations outside. "If there's anyway you can have it outdoors, a lot more people can see it than they can in here.

Indeed, many in the audience were unable to see the actual inaugural events because of limited seating in the rotunda and other areas with clear line of sight to the platform.

Between 2,500 and 3,000 people crowded into the Capitol, said Chris Sifford, the governor's spokesman. While that is far less than the 7,000 to 9,000 that normally attend when the event is outside, Sifford said the entire event "went off without a hitch."

Ira Fowlkes of St. Louis agreed, saying having the event inside added something special to the ceremony.

"It was more personal and having it inside adds an aura of unity," he said.

And more personal it was. People were crammed into nearly every nook and cranny around the Rotunda. There were 2,200 seats around the building, 600 less than would have been outside.

For those not lucky enough to have a coveted floor pass or a clear view from a railing, the best view was from one of the many televisions.

Fowlkes said hearing the governor discuss the future of technology and then being able to see the speech on television made the whole experience "click" for him.

The Stansfield family of Festus didn't care about the ceremony being inside or outside. They were just thrilled to be in Jefferson City. Rick, 12, missed induction into the National Junior Beta Honor Society and Mary, 11, missed a Geography Bee to attend the event.

Their mother, Rhonda Stansfield, said the family even learned how to waltz so they could dance along with the governor at the Inaugural Ball to the "Missouri Waltz."

"I think that it is great to have it inside," Rhonda Stansfield said. "If it was held outside, I would have had to wear my long underwear."

Even the capitol regulars were pleased to have the ceremony inside. Betty Kroll, secretary for Rep. Phil Smith, D-Louisiana, finally got to see her first inauguration.

When the event was held outside, the office staff had to stay inside. With the program being moved inside, Kroll said she got to work and listen.

"It makes you feel like you are part of it," she said.

The members of the Missouri Highway Patrol and Missouri National Guard only had few days to deal with the changes. Maj. Ken. MacNevin of the National Guard said one change was less guardsmen. With the parade canceled, only about 300 guardsmen, mostly from Jefferson City, were used.

The switch inside had the halls of the Capitol swarming with uniforms. Members of the National Guard, Highway Patrol, St. Louis and Kansas City police departments as well as park rangers were called in for crowd control and security.

After Carnahan was sworn in, the 19 gun salute, courtesy of Columbia's First Battalion, 128th Field Artillery was heard through a PA system that apparently froze due to the cold weather, according to the National Guard.

Maj. Robert Petrich said his unit, which had soldiers from Boonville, Moberly, Columbia and Hannibal, didn't mind the cold weather too much.

The loud bangs seemed out of place at the ceremony and most in the crowd either didn't hear them or didn't know what they were.