Hundreds of Washington state residents were on hand Friday for Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Some came to support him, while others wanted to learn firsthand about a peaceful change of administration. And two used the trip to combine politics with love.
“Amazing memories,” said Ashley Butenschoen, a Trump supporter from Lynden. She attended Friday’s event with her husband, Chad, on their 11th wedding anniversary.
Everything was “surreal,” said an excited Butenschoen.
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The mother of four got interested in public policy when she researched federal learning disability laws because her son is dyslexic.
“One thing has led to another,” said Butenschoen, who became politically active after attending a Trump rally in her hometown. She later volunteered for the Republican Party and now manages social media for the Republican Women of Whatcom County.
She had tickets to the swearing-in from U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett. She also had tickets to one of Friday night’s presidential inaugural balls.
As the parade was preparing to start, Butenschoen headed out to get her ball gown and her husband’s tuxedo. They planned to celebrate Trump’s move to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as well as their anniversary amid the music and dancing at the ball.
Tim Messersmith, a U.S. history and civics teacher at Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, had a different objective for his trip to Washington.
He took eight students from Peninsula High and Bellarmine Preparatory School to see the “peaceful transfer of power.”
“I think it was successful,” Messersmith said while waiting in line with his students to get into a Metro station after the inauguration. The students were excited and paid attention to the “inspiring” speeches, he said.
“I liked Trump’s ‘unifying speech,’ ” Messersmith said, adding it was a good demonstration of the peacefulness he wanted to show the students.
The students, who were staying at a hotel in nearby Virginia, had been practicing debate techniques on issues such as college affordability and voting age. Messersmith said he asked students to keep journals of their Washington trip.
Kaitlyn Sill, associate professor of politics and government at Pacific Lutheran University, is teaching a class for the school in Washington, D.C., so she took her class to the inauguration, too.
Although some students didn’t want to go to the event, Sill said the purpose of the class is to recognize the importance of participating in democracy.
“It’s easy to only attend events where like-minded people gather, but it’s extremely valuable to me to personally be exposed and immerse myself in a variety of circumstances,” said Sill, 33.
At the ceremony outside the Capitol, the crowd was not all calm.
Sill said her students saw a man, apparently a Trump supporter, “take a swing” at a woman holding a protest sign.
“He missed, hit a different woman and ran away,” Sill said. “We then gathered around her to help prevent that.”