An inside peek at an inaugural ball

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Ambassadors and guests from around the world gathered to kick off Donald J. Trump’s January 20 inauguration.

Sister Cities International’s January 17 inaugural ball was among the first of many inaugural festivities in Washington as Trump becomes the 45th U.S. president.

President Dwight Eisenhower founded Sister Cities International in 1956, and every U.S. president since has served as honorary chairman. The group partners U.S. cities, counties and states with others worldwide, connecting 2,300 communities.

Here are a few moments from the group’s 2017 inaugural gala:

A Slovenian vibe

Ambassador greeting guests (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
Slovenian Ambassador Božo Cerar (right) chats with guests. (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

Incoming first lady Melania Trump may not have been in attendance, but her home country of Slovenia was well represented. Ball-goers sipped Slovenian wine and vodka, and Slovenian folk musicians provided the reception’s soundtrack. “I hope this is sort of a beginning of a fruitful cooperation between our two countries,” said Božo Cerar, Slovenia’s ambassador to the United States.

Thoughts from Nicaragua

Ambassador speaking with guests (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
Nicaraguan Ambassador Francisco Campbell (center) and wife Miriam Hooker (right) with former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore (left). (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

Nicaragua’s ambassador, Francisco Campbell, can easily rattle off the names of the U.S. cities the organization linked to ones in his country. “The good vibrations, the positive feelings are there and we can continue to build on it,” Campbell said.

Food from around the world

Four photos of food on buffet table and people serving themselves (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
(State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

No one went hungry at the gala. Dishes included apple crisp, short ribs and cookies (above). Also on the menu were pennette gratin, Asian greens, kale dumplings, tuna nachos and lobster dumplings.

Praise for Sister Cities from Sri Lanka

Two men exchanging business cards (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
Sri Lankan Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam (center) exchanges business cards with a guest. (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

“Sister Cities is a good idea,” said Prasad Kariyawasam, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States. “Matching cities across the world is a great idea that uses the spirit of America to be friends of everybody.”

The setting: Organization of American States

Woman and man standing together (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
Juan José Arcuri, who represents Argentina at the Organization of American States, with daughter Olivia (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

The gala was held at the headquarters of the Organization of American States, which brings together all 35 independent states of the Americas. The building is known for its tropical patio, marbled staircases and monumental halls.

From Botswana’s ambassador

People sitting at table and talking (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
David Newman (center), Botswana’s ambassador to the United States (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

“This is the liveliest function I’ve been to in the 18 months that I’ve been here,” said David Newman, Botswana’s ambassador to the United States. “When events like this are well attended, it’s for a reason and the reason must be that people enjoy themselves.”

Dancing the conga line

Revelers dancing in conga line (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
(State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

Diplomats and guests packed the dance floor, grooving to a string of American classics including “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” At one point, revelers danced in a conga line.

The inaugural ball represents one of dozens tied to the inauguration. Several U.S. states are holding unofficial balls. Texas, for example, is known for its Black Tie and Boots Ball.

This article was written by freelance writer Lenore T. Adkins.