One week countdown to Wolf inauguration, Midstate plays prominent role

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Inaugurations are unique reflections of the men being sworn in to the state’s top office.

Tom Ridge began his day in prayer with a priest, a pastor and a rabbi. He also hosted a parade in Harrisburg and a ball at Hershey’s Founder’s Hall.

Ed Rendell followed suit with a morning church service, an afternoon parade, and a black tie ball.

Rendell broke tradition by having his wife Midge, a federal judge, swear him in. Typically, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court does the honors.

For understated Tom Wolf, there’ll be a little less pomp and a little less circumstance. There will be no parade and no fireworks and no black-tie gala.

“Governor-elect Wolf had a specific vision for what he wanted his day to be,” said Beth Melena, spokeswoman for the Wolf Inaugural Committee.

There will be plenty of events beginning with the swearing-in of Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack at 10:30 a.m. in the state Senate chamber.

Wolf’s inauguration follows at noon on the fountain side of the Capitol. It is free and open to the public, but tickets are required.

From 3-4:30 p.m., Wolf and wife, Frances, will host an open house at the Governor’s Residence, where they won’t be living. Wolf intends to commute from his residence in Mt. Wolf, York County.

The Pennsylvania State Museum will have a children’s program and an art exhibit, which was still being hung in its own gallery Tuesday afternoon. The museum is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“The Inaugural Exhibit of the Pennsylvania Arts will feature over 50 artists from the past and the present,” Melena said. “We concentrated on getting pieces from artists who have made a very significant impact on their local communities.”

The Wolf’s even loaned a piece from their personal collection for the month-long exhibit that runs until February 15. Forty of the 55 pieces were loaned to the museum. They have never before, and likely will never again, all be seen in the same place at the same time again.

Inauguration day concludes with a celebration at the Hershey Lodge. It begins at 8 p.m. but please don’t call it a ball.

“It’s not a black tie event,” Melena said. “Guests are welcome to come dressed however they feel comfortable, dressing for an evening celebration.”

Tickets to the evening party are required. They’re $50 for students and seniors, $100 for general admission. We have more information about tickets and times on our website,

So many people have worked many hours to put the perfect inaugural plan in place, but mid-January weather in the Midstate is the wildcard.

“We’re keeping an eye on the weather but we’re not too concerned about it,” Melena said. “We think a lot of people are gonna show up either way. It’s an exciting day and it’s gonna be fun despite the weather.”

Democrats in the legislature are looking forward to the legislative afterparty when Wolf gives them a seat at the negotiating table. Republicans have dominated all three branches of government for four years.

“One of his – Wolf’s – major platforms during his campaign was raising the minimum wage,” said Representative Patty Kim (D-Harrisburg). “I’m sponsoring a bill to raise the minimum wage. So we’re gonna work together to get that going.”

Kim hopes that since Wolf is from York, a third-class city like Harrisburg, that he’ll be a friend to the Capital City. She also thinks a divided government can actually break the gridlock of the past few years.

“Republicans have to lead because they’re in the majority,” Kim said. “Wolf has to lead. So there’s gotta be working together and I think that’s finally gonna help us push things forward instead of constantly being at each other.”

That grand experiment begins, fittingly, next Tuesday at high noon.


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