- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2008

Former Vice President Al Gore will host a “green” inaugural ball the night before President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office.

“The Green Ball: Inauguration of a New Green Economy” will be held Jan. 19 at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

A draft version of the invitation, obtained by The Washington Times, urges people to join Mr. Gore to “bring together a diverse coalition of environmentally-forward organizations, entrepreneurs, scientists and advocates, celebrating a commitment to growing the New Green Economy.”

More than two dozen environmental organizations are listed on the invitation.

It also features a green-shaded image of Mr. Obama, along with a quote from the Democrat’s interview with Time Magazine from the fall.

“There is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy. … That’s going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office.”

Mr. Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden huddled with Mr. Gore in the Chicago transition office Tuesday to discuss energy policy and ways climate change efforts can create new jobs.

The president-elect is expected to name his environmental posts soon, perhaps as early as Monday.

Meanwhile, a second group is planning a “green inaugural ball,” calling it the first “eco-friendly” inaugural celebration. It is planned for Jan. 17 at the Andrew W. Mellon auditorium in Washington.

A press release issued Wednesday notes the catering will be “100 percent organic” and that the bars will feature both local and organic beverages. The food waste and floral arrangements will be composted and the lighting scheme will be energy efficient. The group will also pay for wind power offsets and carbon credits to make the event carbon neutral.

It urges guests to sport green or black ties.

The founder said the goal was to inspire the official inaugural committee to incorporate similar plans into their events.

Mr. Obama’s team announced Wednesday the theme of the Jan. 20 inaugural celebration is “Renewing America’s Promise,” along with a preliminary four-day schedule of events that will wrap around the inauguration, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Day the day before, Jan. 19.

The theme of “Renewing America’s Promise” reflects a vision that underscores the new administration’s “commitment to restoring opportunity and possibility for all and re-establishing America’s standing as a beacon of hope around the world,” the Presidential Inaugural Committee said.

The schedule of events includes:

  • Sunday, Jan 18: A welcome afternoon event open to the public.
  • Monday, Jan. 19: Mr. Obama, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and their families “will participate in activities dedicated to serving others in communities across the Washington, D.C., area.” Those activities will be in connection with congressional recognition of the King holiday as “a national day of community service.”
  • Tuesday, Jan. 20: Traditional inaugural ceremonies, including the swearing-in on the West Front of the Capitol, a lunch in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, the 56th Inaugural Parade and official inaugural balls in the evening.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 21: Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden will participate in a prayer service.

    Richard C. Gross contributed to this report.

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