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Plans for Corbett appear low-key

Monday, December 20, 2010

Associated Press


In the modern history of gubernatorial inaugurations in Pennsylvania, Mark Schweiker set a standard for low-key that even fiscally conservative Gov.-elect Tom Corbett is certain to exceed.

In 2001, the circumstances demanded austerity. Schweiker took the oath less than a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks set the nation on edge and only days before his predecessor, Tom Ridge, cut short his tenure to become the nation’s first homeland security chief.

Schweiker, who had been Ridge’s lieutenant governor, said up front he would serve only the 15 months left in Ridge’s term and not seek a full term. The Republican was sworn in on the front steps of the state Capitol before about 2,000 well-wishers.

There was no parade. No inaugural ball. No entertainment besides the music at the ceremony provided by a marching band from Bloomsburg University, Schweiker’s alma mater.

“There was a sobriety to our outlook because of 9/11 and the mood of the citizenry,” recalled Schweiker, who plans to attend Corbett’s inaugural, just a month away. “The democracy was being tested and our stability was being tested. ... The eyes of the freethinking world were on the Capitol that day.”

Inaugural celebrations usually combine casual parties, at which a new governor’s supporters can let their hair down after long election campaigns, with formal events that reflect the dignity of the state’s highest office. The bills are paid by private donors, including corporations and organized labor groups that often have a direct stake in state policies.

Organizers of Corbett’s Jan. 18 inauguration as the state’s 46th chief executive are limiting the number of inaugural events in recognition of the hard economic times and the state’s serious financial challenges. Still, there will be a performing-arts program, a Roman Catholic Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and an inaugural ball at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex.

Corbett, a Republican who is now the state attorney general, is not having a parade. But like Ridge and outgoing Gov. Ed Rendell, he plans to take his oath on the steps of the east entrance to the Capitol, where a large fountain is framed by a granite amphitheater.

Tickets to the arts program, the Mass and the inauguration are free, but seating will be limited. Tickets to the ball are $150.

The inaugural committee has set up a website —