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Islanders come out in droves to celebrate Obama's inauguration

Islander Robin Worley celebrates Barack Obama’s inauguration in a costume she created five years ago, during the height of the Bush years. - Tom Hughes photo
Islander Robin Worley celebrates Barack Obama’s inauguration in a costume she created five years ago, during the height of the Bush years.
— image credit: Tom Hughes photo

Vashon celebrated the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency in high style on Tuesday night, as more than 500 Islanders gathered at the aptly named “O” Space for a rollicking inaugural ball.

The O Space, also known as Open Space for Arts and Community, is Vashon’s newest and most expansive performance space. Located in a former Stewart Brothers Coffee roasting warehouse, the facility is still being developed by owners Janet McAlpin and David Godsey.

“This is our coming out party,” said McAlpin.

For Tuesday’s ball, the cavernous space was warmly lit and draped in velvety curtains, with ample room for the huge crowd to mingle and celebrate the historic election of the nation's first African-American president.

At the far end of the warehouse, the 16-piece Portage Philharmonic played big band and swing classics, and on the other side of the room, an ample buffet was laid out, featuring all-American comfort food.

McAlpin said that event organizers had prepared for 400 people to attend the ball, but confessed that she would have been satisfied if 300 had turned out.

Instead, Islanders of all ages began streaming in the doors at 6:30 p.m., and more than a few were dressed to the nines in ball gowns and tuxes. Children also dashed through the space, nibbling on hot dogs and pulled-pork sandwiches.

“I’m glad Obama won, because I think he has very good ideas,” said 10-year-old Ruby Seago, who came to the party with her father but spent

much of her time jumping up and down on the dance floor with other youngsters.

A beer garden catered to the needs of the grown-ups, and many ball-goers raised their glasses to the events of the day.

“We have to keep telling each other how significant this day is,” said Kevin Joyce, “so we never forget.”

Rebecca Davis, an Islander who has been a vocal critic of the Bush administration, said, “I’m so happy that it’s different now, and we’re all here together in this small community.”

While most of the ball-goers were longtime Islanders active in political circles, at least one person who came to the event had a very different perspective.

Jacob Acier, a Sudanese “lost boy” who recently moved to Vashon after spending his childhood in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, said he was surprised that Obama had been elected president.

“It makes me happy,” Acier said, “because it proves that anyone can do anything. This is how things are in America."

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