The stage is set, and the banners are hung.
Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards will be sworn into office and become Louisiana’s 56th governor during an 11:30 a.m. ceremony at the Capitol on Monday.
On Sunday, Edwards and his wife, incoming first lady Donna Edwards, examined the setting, marveling over the stage that has been erected on the Capitol steps and the hundreds of chairs lining the plaza.
“I think it looks wonderful,” Edwards said.
“Absolutely amazing,” his wife added.
The inauguration event, which Edwards is expected to use as a call for unity and to highlight the state of the state, will include musical performances from groups and individuals from across Louisiana, as well as a military fly-over and a 19-cannon salute.
Edwards said he will express “hopefulness and optimism,” but with a healthy dose of reality.
“It will be the unvarnished truth about the realities we face,” he said Sunday. “This is about finding common interests.”
An invitation-only inaugural ball will be held at Celtic Studios off Airline Highway and Interstate 12 in the evening.
Edwards, 49, beat Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter in a Nov. 21 runoff. The Amite Democrat previously served in the Louisiana House.
Those hoping to attend the swearing-in ceremony will be able to gather on the Capitol grounds to view at 11:30 a.m.
“Anybody who comes to attend the inauguration should access it through the Huey P. Long garden,” State Police spokesman Maj. Doug Cain said. “We’re just asking people to stay away from the Capitol area (if they aren’t attending the inauguration).”
The LaSalle and Galvez parking garages will be free and open to attendees.
Several roads around the Capitol and near the St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Baton Rouge will be blocked off, including parts of Spanish Town Road, Third Street and Fifth Street in front of the Capitol. The Capitol Access Road around Capitol Lake and through the adjacent park has been closed for security upgrades and will not be open for the inauguration festivities.
Edwards and his family will attend a morning Mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Baton Rouge. That event is by invitation only and will also cause some road closures. The block immediately around St. Joseph’s (Fourth Street, North Street, Fifth Street and Main Street) will be closed in the morning.
Costs associated with Edwards’ inauguration are mostly covered by private funds. A 2009 law capped contributions to the inaugural festivities at $5,000 per person.
Edwards spokesman Richard Carbo said that the cap hasn’t constrained plans for the event.
“It’s much more challenging, given the tighter rules,” he said. “But we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of people supportive of him and the efforts. We’ve had the resources that we need.”
Edwards has said he was budgeting about $2 million for the inauguration and nearly two-month transition.