The old Carr’s Mall was transformed to a starlit, gossamer fairyland of elegance to honor Alaska’s new chief executives. Governor Bill Walker and First Lady Donna were the first to enter inaugural arches created by the decorating committee headed up by Erin Micciche. Lt. Governor Byron Mallott followed with his wife Toni and greeted the crowd of some 450 well-wishers clad in formal attire to celebrate Alaska’s new Governor and Lt. Governor. “The crowd was a wide variety of people that you don’t regularly see together and it was refreshing to see folks from all sides come together to celebrate the inauguration of the new Governor and Lt. Governor,” said Sara Pozonsky, co-chair of the Peninsula Inaugural Ball Committee along with Debby Brown.
According to Pozonsky all the costs for the event were raised from private sources and no public funds were expended for the event. “In addition to the funds raised to cover the costs for the ball from private sponsors and ticket sales the committee raised an additional $5,000 on behalf of the Governor’s wife Donna Walker our new First Lady for her favorite charity, which she selected as the LeeShore Center which provides services for abused women and children here on the Peninsula,” she said. The inaugural celebration began with posting of the colors by the Kenai American Legion and VFW Post # 10046, followed by a chilling rendition of the National Anthem sung by Brittney Gilman and followed by the Alaskan Flag Song by KCHS students. The Agayun dancers from Alaska Christian College performed traditional dances. Clare Swan and members of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe presented the Governor and Lt. Governor with chief necklaces which they wore throughout the evening.
Kenai Borough Mayor Mike Navarre then introduced his long-time friend and former legislative colleague Lt. Governor Byron Mallott. Following Mallott’s remarks State Senator Peter Micciche who came home from Juneau, introduced the Governor recounting the heroic wartime efforts of Bill Walker’s father during WWII and paying tribute to all veterans for their service, then underscored the theme of reconciliation and cooperation with the new administration that will be needed to take Alaska forward in the coming years.
The Governor appearing genuinely moved and appreciative of the Senator’s words returned in his brief remarks to his campaign theme of unity and cooperation to always do what is in the best interest of all Alaskans. He recalled a time when he was mayor of Valdez and the city had been designated as the terminus for the Alaska oil pipeline. He said former borough mayor Don Gilman called him and asked what he could do to help now that the selection had been made. Now there is another pipeline in the works and I’m in Kenai to offer my help said the Governor. The inaugural dinner catered by Kenai Catering featured prime roast beef and the salmon and crab were donated by the Alaska Salmon Alliance. Following dinner Jim McHale offered an official toast to the success of the new administration and after the First Couples dance hundreds crowed to the dance floor to dance the night away to the music of Bunny Swan & the Mabrey Brothers with Christina Morton.