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Parson announces inauguration plans, will start with prayer at SBU

Austin Huguelet
Gov. Mike Parson talks to the media following remarks by Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, in August. Don Shrubshell/Columbia Daily Tribune

The usual swearing-in at the capitol is still on, but the traditional evening ball is postponed for the time being.

Events will be appropriately distanced and guests will be required to go through health screenings and questionnaires, according to a news release.

Masks will also available and wearing them will be encouraged though, as is the governor’s custom, they will not be mandatory.

Things will kick off with a prayer service at 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, the governor’s hometown.

Two days later, Parson, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick will take their oaths on the South Lawn of the Capitol in Jefferson City.

All five are Republicans who notched decisive victories over their Democratic opponents in November. Parson himself defeated State Auditor Nicole Galloway by roughly 17 percent of the vote.

(Galloway remains in office and is up for re-election in 2022.)

Both events will be open to the public and free to attend, but the organizing committee is encouraging people to RSVP in advance so they can set up seating to meet social distancing requirements.

Information on how to request tickets is expected to be online at some point in the intervening weeks.

The traditional inaugural ball is expected to be rescheduled later in the year to coincide with the state’s bicentennial celebration.

Missouri entered the union as the 24th state on Aug. 10, 1821.

The festivities will be paid for by a nonprofit called Moving Missouri Forward.

The news release announcing the schedule said the nonprofit will make its donors and their contributions public, marking a return to traditional practice after former Gov. Eric Greitens’ allied nonprofit refused to name donors to his inauguration.

The committee organizing all the events is led by first lady Teresa Parson and co-chaired by James Harris, a Jefferson City political consultant, and his wife Jillian.

The committee also includes prominent Republicans like former governors and senators Kit Bond and John Ashcroft, top GOP donors like Rex Sinquefield and David Steward, and operatives like John Hancock, who chairs Parson’s allied political action committee.