Virginia's first Democratic gubernatorial inauguration in 16 years will combine the "y'all come" flavor of the Carter presidential inaugural with the pomp and glitter of the Reagan ceremonies.
It will toss bluegrass and big band swing into the same ballroom.
It will play host to down-home Virginians as well as socialites in designer gowns as Charles S. Robb becomes Virginia's next governor.
"Robb has been determined from the beginning to have an inaugural that reflects the constituency that elected him," said George Stoddard, Robb's chief spokesman.
That has not been easy for a Democrat who was escorted into the state's top office on the votes of disenchanted Republicans, staunch Democrats and middle-of-the-road undecideds.
As a result, the inaugural committee has plucked ideas from a number of recent official ceremonies for the Jan. 16 production on the steps of the State Capitol in Richmond.
Committee officials say they expect to keep the bill for the two days of inaugural events below the $95,000 spent four years ago to install Republican John N. Dalton. The General Assembly picks up most of the tab with tax dollars, but Del. Alson Smith of Winchester said the committee also has raised private funds to cover any cost overruns.
Taking a cue from President Ronald Reagan's swearing-in, which was switched from the east front to the west front of the Capitol, Robb's ceremonies will be moved from the south portico of the State Capitol to the building's north side--a first for modern-day inaugurations in Richmond.
Committee officials said the move will quadruple the number of people who will be able to see the swearing-in.
"I remember in 1965 when I worked for the gubernatorial campaign and got an invitation to see the inaugural," said Smith. "I didn't see anything. And I decided that if I ever was put in charge of one of these things, I would fix it so a lot of people could see."
Now, four inaugurals later, Smith-- who was Robb's chief campaign fund-raiser --and several thousand other participants will get a better look at the swearing-in.
Viewing was limited to under 2,000 people for past ceremonies because of the sharp bends in the roadway adjacent to the south portico and the steep drop of the lawn just beyond the roadway, said Smith. The north side has a wider and more gently sloping lawn.
This year about 8,000 people should be able to see the ceremonies, he added. Approximately 1,000 people, ranging from the governor-elect's family to various state officials and campaign supporters, will be seated on the main platform. For the first time, said Smith, there will be enough room for state legislators' spouses to accompany them on the stage.
Another 1,000 people will be seated on bleachers and about 6,000 more people will be afforded a good view from the standing room section, Smith said. Participants will be admitted to their sections by color-coded tickets.
"This is for the people of Virginia," Smith added. Admission to the inauguration is free, but it will be by invitation only.
The inauguration committee has mailed out between 30,000 and 40,000 invitations to the noon swearing-in events, according to a list of invitees drawn up by state legislators and state and county Democratic and Republican party leaders.
"We sent invitations to anyone who showed an interest in wanting to come," said Smith. "Party people, campaign contributors, Republicans, independents, Democrats and all in between."
And if there's someone the committee overlooked, he added, "Call the inaugural committee and we'll send you one."
Robb will be joined in the swearing-in ceremonies by Democratic Lt. Governor-elect Richard J. Davis of Portsmouth and Democratic Attorney General-elect Gerald Baliles of Richmond.
The inauguration committee also is changing the pattern of holding several inaugural balls, as popularized by President Carter and used in Virginia four years ago at the Dalton inauguration.
Instead, Robb will hold a single ball at the Richmond Coliseum at 9 p.m. Jan. 16.
And although the invitations note that "suggested attire for the ball is white or black tie," dancers will have their choice of bands ranging from the country bluegrass tunes of Seldom Scene to the Kings of Swing. Three separate stages will be set up for the five bands which will play during the night in the red-and-blue-decorated Coliseum.
About 20,000 to 30,000 people will be invited to the ball, though only about 3,000 of those are expected to attend, said Andy Spaulding, an inaugural committee official.
While tickets to the inaugural are being distributed generously among Republicans, Spaulding said the ball would be "a private event."
Republicans won't be barred from attending, but "we assume the Republicans aren't that interested in the ball," he added.
Prices for the tickets range from $20 a person for regular seating off the main floor to $1,000 for a 10-person box seat with table service closer to the new governor. About 110 of those boxes will be available.
Governor-elect Robb's wife, the former Lynda Bird Johnson, will be wearing a red taffeta gown designed for the occasion by Bill Blass, according to Robb spokesman Stoddard.
The new governor's wife is no stranger to inaugurals, having watched her father, former president Lyndon B. Johnson, sworn into office on the steps of the nation's Capitol.
The inaugural event will begin at 8 p.m. Jan. 15 with a black tie "Inaugural Gala" at the Empire Theater in Richmond. The show will include performances by the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, the Virginia Opera Association, Larry Bland and the Volunteer Choir and the New Virginians, with a champagne intermission. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at $20 a person.
Inauguration Day will begin with an inaugural prayer service at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 16 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church near the State Capitol. Father Constantine Dombalis, a Greek orthodox minister who gave the prayer at Robb's announcement ceremony when he entered the gubernatorial race, will lead the interdenominational ceremonies, which are open to the public.
The swearing-in will begin at noon at the Capitol, followed by the inaugural parade, about a mile-long route around the Capitol area.
A public reception will be held for the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in the rotunda of the capitol from 4 to 6 p.m. Tickets are not required.
The inaugural ball will conclude the day's events.