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Politics

'It's Just Been Beautiful': Connecticut Watches The Inauguration

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Dave Wurtzel
/
Connecticut Public
Holly Peloquin demonstrates her enthusiasm for the new president in Enfield.

From living rooms and Zoom rooms, Connecticut watched as Joe Biden was sworn in Wednesday as America’s 46th president. Inauguration watch parties are a time-honored tradition, but in deference to the pandemic, they looked a bit different this year.

At the Connecticut Democrats’ virtual watch party, Suzanne Benton of Ridgefield was one of 60 people who logged on to enjoy sharing the events in Washington, D.C.

“After all we’ve been through it’s -- I’m weeping now -- it’s just been beautiful,” she said, overcome with emotion. “Beautiful to hear him, beautiful hope, it was a beautiful speech, and of course I’m hopeful.”

Sheila Hayes of Norwich said that throughout the ceremony she kept thinking about the hard work ahead, but she believes Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris can galvanize the country.

“They have stepped up and they are going to really move this forward and take this weight and burden off of us,” she said.

Although different from a traditional gathering, many said they were happy to have at least some way to watch history unfold with others.

Meanwhile, outside a grocery store in Enfield, Adrena Womack and Holly Peloquin were literally wearing their excitement.

Womack sported the colors pink and green -- and wore pearls -- to commemorate the swearing-in of the nation’s first female vice president, Kamala Harris.

“It tells everybody -- not just Black people, not just Asian women, any woman -- that you can get in,” she said.

Peloquin pulled up her hoody to expose a shirt reading “Biden Harris.”

“We’ve been through hell in the past four years,” she said. “People were just being fed the lies. So, I’m very happy for today -- even though they tried to block everybody as much as they could from voting -- we prevailed.”

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong was another who was deeply moved by the inauguration of Harris in particular. He said it was hard to describe the feeling of seeing her become the first Asian American and African American woman to hold the office of vice president.

“As an Asian American this is a really important moment, and as the son of immigrants this was an urgent day that we get here,” he said, “that we can resume being and feeling like Americans after all the rage and hate that’s been directed here to Asian Americans since the pandemic.”

While Inauguration Day was a beacon of light for many, it represented darkness for others.

“The people are going to have an uprising -- the Democrats ruined this country,” said Howie Benner of Enfield. “There’s no hope in that administration which he’s got. They’re all socialists.”

Benner said there’s not much President Biden can do to gain his support.

The restrictions placed on celebrations in Washington, D.C., by the pandemic meant an early trip to the office for the new president -- he has said he’s eager to get to work. And some Connecticut residents already have a wish list for the new administration.

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Credit Dave Wurtzel / Connecticut Public
“I did vote for Trump, but I’m not really pleased at what he’s been doing. I’m excited to see what Biden can do,” said Elaine Moore of Broad Brook, Conn.

Elaine Moore of Broad Brook says she has family confined to an assisted-living facility in this time of isolation and coronavirus mitigation, so she’s hoping Team Biden can get more people vaccinated.

“I did vote for Trump, but I’m not really pleased at what he’s been doing,” she said. “I’m excited to see what Biden can do.”

For Peloquin, who spoke in Enfield, environmental issues are top of mind. She’s looking forward to Biden following through with his promise to jump back into the Paris climate agreement.

“I don’t think it was right for one man to be able to back out of that. It’s terrible,” she said. “We started it pretty much and we need to be in that. It’s the environment -- it’s for the children, it’s for our future.”

Executive orders related to the Paris Agreement and COVID-19 are among 17 Biden signed Wednesday afternoon.

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