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Special program set for Sikeston

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Celebration will take place at Clinton Building

SIKESTON -- After a historical presidential election, people all around the country are ready to see the inauguration on Tuesday.

And since not everyone can make it to Washington, D.C., for the events, two Sikeston men have organized a special celebration for Bootheel residents.

"Most of us thought we would never see this type of historic event (the election of the nation's first black president) in our lifetime," said Harry Howard, president of the Westend Empowerment Betterment Association. That group, along with the Scott County Democrats, is planning a celebration for Tuesday evening at the Clinton Building in Sikeston to mark the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States.

"We knew that other cities were doing celebrations, and there was enough interest here for our own," said Howard, who is organizing the event with Genesis Grant of Sikeston. "It includes the whole Bootheel area and will reach the average person."

Tickets to the event are $5 each. It will include entertainment by well-known musicians and choirs in the area, said Howard.

"And there will be a panel, where select community leaders will lead small discussions on each of the issues Obama will face," said Howard.

Attorney Phil Barkett will be the keynote speaker. "He's going to speak about the past, present and future agendas for the new president," said Howard.

Howard said there has already been quite a bit of interest in the event.

"It's just really taking off," said Howard. "It's kind of exciting."

Howard said all are invited to attend, as organizers want the celebration to be a real community event. "All races, religions, economic classes and political affiliations should come," he said. "We have to all work together."

The biggest reason behind the celebration is to bring people together, said Howard.

"We're sharing in this history-making event, and (the celebration) makes it personal for us in the Bootheel," he said. "Bringing us all together for a common cause is really the main emphasis ... this is important for our country."

And those who wish to attend should act quickly to make their reservations. "They are going fairly fast -- we have close to 150 sold already, and 225 is the maximum capacity," said Howard. The $5 ticket cost should be affordable for most anyone, he said.

The Bootheel Presidential Inaugural Celebration will be from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday a the Clinton, 501 Campanella. Light refreshments are provided and attendees are encouraged to bring a dish to share in potluck.

For tickets or more information, contact Harry Howard at 471-3859 or Genesis Grant at 475-9354.