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Cold-weather weenies have an alternative to seeing the new president inaugurated in Washington, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

The thinking pink crew at the Royal Hawaiian (coincidentally home to the Mai Tai Bar, where former rival John McCain met wife Cindy) have come up with an ingenious way to capitalize on Hawaii's excitement about the historic inauguration and the reopening of the Waikiki landmark, both on Jan. 20, 2009. Seeing how quickly the Hawaii Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C., sold out, the Royal Hawaiian is offering a special lodging package that includes two VIP tickets to an alternative Aloha State ball -- this one in the hotel's Monarch Room.

In other money-you-probably-can't-spare news, Michigan's toned-down ball won't have a toned-down price. And despite performers patriotically offering to take half their usual rates, neither will the more star-studded affairs.

Inauguration attendees will include veterans of the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black unit of pilots in World War II, the New York Times reports.

“The election of Barack Obama was like a culmination of a struggle that we were going through, wanting to be pilots,” said William M. Wheeler, 85, a retired Tuskegee combat fighter pilot who lives in Hempstead, N.Y. He tried to become a commercial pilot after the war but was offered a job cleaning planes instead.

Mr. Obama has acknowledged his debt to the airmen, issuing a statement in 2007, when they received the Congressional Gold Medal. It said in part: “My career in public service was made possible by the path heroes like the Tuskegee Airmen trail-blazed.”

Other recently reported participants include formerly wild horses used by the Border Patrol in inland Washington State, and a Phoenix-area father-and-son duo that will be working Jan. 20 -- the former with security, the latter with his high school's marching band.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  December 10, 2008; 12:57 PM ET  | Category:  Around the Web
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