Dressed in gowns and tuxedos, more than 3,000 guests from across the state will gather at the Raleigh Convention Center on Friday for the North Carolina Governor’s Inaugural Ball honoring newly sworn-in Gov. Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor.
It’s the only black-tie event of a weekend of inaugural festivities in Raleigh. Organizers did not know how many guests from Charlotte will attend, but McCrory requested 40 seats for friends and family.
The less formal “Nothing Could Be Finer” Inaugural Celebration on Saturday, also at the Raleigh Convention Center, will be hosted by the Foundation for North Carolina. The new nonprofit political organization tied to McCrory will raise money for its “free market agenda,” but has ruffled feathers in Raleigh by competing with official events. It’s sold out.
On Friday, the evening begins for McCrory and his wife, Ann, with the Governor’s Reception, a $150 per person gathering also held at the convention center.
At the Gala Presentation from 8 to 9 p.m., the Avett Brothers along with other N.C. musicians will perform, and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery will talk about our state. The event will stream live at www.wtvd.com. After McCrory is officially presented at that event, he and Ann will be escorted by the N.C. A&T State University drum line to a ballroom upstairs for their first dance. They chose Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” performed by the Durham variety band Bill City Syndicate, for the dance.
Charlotte social circles are curious about plans for Ann McCrory’s gown and other details, but information was unavailable Tuesday.
Guests will enjoy small tastings of signature dishes by chefs from some of the state’s best restaurants. The list does not include any from Charlotte. Heavy hors d’oeuvres catered by the convention center are also on the menu. Live music is on three different floors, each devoted to a different style: jazz, dance and bluegrass. An area devoted to social media will allow guests to post photos to Instagram and Facebook, as well as Tweet about the evening.
One Charlottean who’ll be experiencing it all is Whitni Wilson-Wertz, president of the Junior League of Charlotte. She’ll be joining other Junior League presidents across the state who will all be seated together. They were invited by the Junior League of Raleigh, which has hosted the ball since 1933.“We do it to celebrate North Carolina and the office of the governor – it’s not about the political party,” said Pat Wilkins, president of the Junior League of Raleigh.
Wilson-Wertz and the other guests will be surrounded by design and décor from ThemeWorks, a Raleigh-based event design and production company that is in charge of presenting the “Winter in North Carolina” theme.
Cash bars will be set up under “stone” column pergolas reminiscent of the state Capitol columns. The stage and lounge areas will have white leather furniture and oversized urns filled with branches on top of large pedestals. Vintage chandeliers and dramatic lighting will add to the ambience.
Dining tables covered in branch-patterned taupe linens will have centerpieces of glass cylinders filled with pillar candles nestled in crystals. Red cardinals, the state bird, will perch on branches next to the cylinders.
Staff writer Jim Morrill contributed.