- Associated Press - Thursday, January 15, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa’s longest-serving first lady, Chris Branstad, will appear in formal wear at her husband’s sixth inaugural ball Friday - but no new doll will be made to commemorate the occasion.

A popular attraction at the Iowa Capitol is a case displaying dolls of the state’s first ladies wearing their inaugural gowns. The tradition was begun by former first lady Billie Ray, whose husband Robert Ray served from 1969 through 1983. The case contains 44 dolls, with costumes dating back to the mid-1800s before Iowa became a state.

Each doll is from a mold based on Billie Ray’s likeness, and the state has featured the dolls since 1976.

Chris Branstad already has two dolls in the case, because her husband has served two different stints in office. A spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad said the custom is to create a doll for the inauguration of a new governor, not for every inaugural ball.

The Chris Branstad dolls are from 1983, when Terry Branstad was first elected, and from 2011, when he was elected after a time away from public office.

Branstad’s latest inaugural ball will be held Friday night at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center Ballroom in Des Moines.

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