- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Democrat Gina Raimondo will be sworn in Tuesday as Rhode Island’s first female governor. Unlike lavish galas that are being held in other states, she’s celebrating with low-key, free events that are open to the public, paid for by donors that are giving up to $15,000.

The 43-year-old former state treasurer has said she wants an inauguration that’s open and inclusive. The theme is “Make It In Rhode Island.” A highlight of the festivities is the popular public art display, WaterFire, which features small bonfires on rivers in downtown Providence on Tuesday night. Raimondo’s reception is at Waterplace Restaurant near the river.

“It’s time to turn around Rhode Island and it is critical that we come together to make it happen,” Raimondo and her husband, Andy Moffit, said in a statement. “This is an opportunity to celebrate what makes our state great and all we have to build upon for our comeback.”

The inaugural events will be privately funded, with individual donations capped at $15,000. Nicole Kayner, a spokeswoman for the inaugural committee, said they expect total costs for the inaugural festivities to be around $100,000.

The committee will make the list of donors public by the middle of the week, Kayner said. Contributors will be Rhode Island companies and well-to-do individuals. The most expensive event is WaterFire, which typically costs about $50,000 at this time of the year, according to the committee.

Rhode Island used to hold inaugural balls. In 1995, Gov. Lincoln Almond decided to forgo the traditional ball in favor of a free public event. An estimated 20,000 people packed the convention center for a multicultural festival of music, dance and art to celebrate Rhode Island.

In 2002, his successor, Don Carcieri, vetoed the idea of a black-tie ball. He worried it would be in poor taste, given the state of the economy. In 2007, however, Carcieri did throw an inaugural ball for $50,000.

Raimondo’s inaugural plans borrow a page from her predecessor, Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Chafee said he wanted to get the state budget in shape and would start by having a scaled-back 2011 inaugural that didn’t include a ball. Instead, he organized a free WaterFire.

Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony features music by the Rhode Island National Guard’s 88th Army Band, a 19-gun salute and Raimondo’s inaugural address. The Cumberland Little League team that competed in the 2014 Little League World Series is scheduled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Newly elected general officers will be joined by family members as they take the oath of office. Raimondo will be joined by Moffit, their two children, Ceci and Tommy, and her mother, Josephine Raimondo.

Jorge Elorza, the mayor-elect of Providence, will celebrate his inauguration with a party at the old Cranston Street Armory, a landmark on the city’s West Side. He will be inaugurated Monday, succeeding fellow Democrat Angel Taveras.

On Saturday, Raimondo and Moffit plan to host Rhode Islanders at the Statehouse for an open house. Rhode Island restaurants and food and beverage companies will offer tastings and local groups will perform. Afterward, they are inviting families to skate with them at the Providence Rink.

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