D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser wrapped up three days of inaugural festivities Saturday, trading buffets of butternut squash risotto and lemon tartlets from the night before for tater tots, pigs in blankets and a constituency far more interested in how well she played Skee-Ball and took selfies.
The District’s eighth mayor hosted a party Saturday afternoon for 2,500 of the city’s youngest residents at the newly renovated Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, spending the last of at least $800,000 that she raised to put on the public parties and deepen a well of goodwill as her term begins.
“I did not vote for her, but this is a good start,” Lois Void said as she guided her 18-month-old granddaughter through a maze of circus displays and games at Bowser’s Inaugural Kids Party.
“I always get excited anytime there are events for the kids,” said Void, a teacher. “I hope this shows more opportunities for them going forward.”
About 17,000 people attended Bowser’s events last week, and her audience was poised to grow exponentially even before her first day in office. Bowser was scheduled to appear Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” alongside D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, both of whom agreed to stay on in their positions.
On Saturday, the network began promoting the nationally televised appearance with host Chuck Todd as a discussion with “The Women Who Run Washington.”
Ahead of the interview, Bowser appeared with her top female deputies at the kids’ party, which Lanier dubbed “the most fun” of the three-day extravaganza.
Bowser was mobbed by grinning parents and children as she worked the room.
Michele Dedeaux, a Bowser supporter, thrust her eight-week-old infant granddaughter, Kristin, into the mayor’s arms. Bowser held the baby for a long moment before jumping on stage and addressing the crowd.
“We have to celebrate our young people, recognize all of the great things that they do day in and day out, and continue to focus on their futures,” Bowser said. “That’s why I ran for mayor.”
Bowser handed the microphone to Henderson, who she said would keep the city’s children front and center during her term.
In interviews afterward, Bowser, Henderson and Lanier each said they were pleased to appear together before a national audience and about the message it might send.
“Three women in a big city, in charge of three important things,” Lanier said, “I think it’s a great message for women.”
“It’s kind of cool, right?’ Henderson added. “Women bring a particular leadership style, and we’ll talk about that.”
Henderson said it was also a chance to show young girls that they can aspire to be whatever they want.
“As a woman who has a family here, I want to live in a city where my kids have a great opportunity, but they also see themselves — see the opportunity — to be anything, from the chancellor to the police chief to the mayor,” Henderson said.
“We’re going to talk about what’s important to us in Washington,” Bowser said. “Obviously, we’re very proud of the chancellor and the chief of police and the work that they have done. And I’m very proud to be mayor.”
Asked whether the new mayor would make any news before the national audience, Bowser spokeswoman LaToya Foster quipped, “She is the news.”