As President Barack Obama took the oath of office Monday for the second time, Bowling Green residents were watching in Kentucky and in Washington, D.C.
Children at Parker-Bennett Community Center waved star-shaped noise makers, applauded and snapped pictures on their phones as Obama gave his second inaugural address.
The timing of the inauguration made it especially significant for Sierra McKinney, recreation leader at the community center. It took place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“He’s living out the dream of Martin Luther King,” she said.
She hopes the children who attended the event realize it’s significant and that the success they see in Obama gives them faith that they can achieve their goals, even if one of them is to become president.
“It’s really important that they understand that no dream is too high to reach,” McKinney said.
Keriah Cofer-Britt, 9, of Bowling Green, said she wants to be able to talk about the inauguration ceremony with her grandmother, who watched it at her home.
It is the first time that Keriah has seen an inauguration, she said.
“It was really important,” she said. “He did a good old speech about America ... and how people should have their rights and everybody should be equal.”
Jamie Beck, 30, of Bowling Green, brought her children to the watch party at the community center.
She wants them to learn about the presidency, she said.
“It’s a serious thing,” Beck said.
While people in Bowling Green watched the inauguration ceremony, Western Kentucky University student Jacqueline Adams was in the nation’s capital to witness the event. She attended with a group of about 40 other students.
Adams, 27, a graduate assistant at WKU’s Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility, said the country’s first black president starting his second term was an important act to witness.
“It’s really a great stepping stone for American culture and American history, and I didn’t want to miss that,” she said.
Adams and her group left their hotel about 7 a.m. to get to their spot for the inauguration behind the reflecting pool on the mall. The ceremony didn’t start until about 11 a.m.
The general atmosphere of the crowd near Adams was peaceful, she said. It was also diverse, with people of different ages and races and representing many states.
She thinks Obama is a good orator, but was more excited by what he said than how he said it, she said.
“Metaphorically, he has a voice that I think will help to move America forward,” Adams said.
She was excited when he spoke about things such as equal pay for equal work and environmental sustainability, and said audience members responded vocally when they agreed.
“The whole crowd, they went nuts,” Adams said.
When Bowling Green residents Jack and Michele Thomas reached their seats for the inaugural ceremony, the sun was just rising.
It was so cold they could see their breath, the sun glowed on the Capitol building and he could see the statue “Freedom” on top of the dome, Jack Thomas said.
“So you look up and you say, ‘Gosh, there’s some real hope here,’ ” he said.
The Thomases have been to inauguration ceremonies before, but this time they were close enough to see Obama and others as more than stick figures, Jack Thomas said.
Michele Thomas said she could hear a difference between the address the president gave Monday and the one he gave at the beginning of his first term.
“There was, like, a tentativeness to it and this time there was, like a confidence, some experience,” Michele Thomas said.
It also seemed to touch the people in the audience, she said.
“I think each person found something in there that was meant for them,” she said.
Jack and Michele Thomas also attended both the Bluegrass Ball on the Saturday before the inauguration and the official Inaugural Ball.
They heard performers including Alicia Keys and Smokey Robinson, and saw Vice President Joe Biden and his wife dance together before the president and first lady finally took the dance floor, she in a red dress, Michele Thomas said.
“Red is the color of a person who is fully into life, psychologically,” she said.
Jack and Michele Thomas both worked at the Warren County Democratic Party headquarters during the election, and Michele Thomas was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, where Obama received the party nomination.
She said it was a night of celebration.
“It was just unbelievable,” Michele Thomas said. “It was like having a sense of ‘Wow, this has really happened.’ ”