Fallin’s family Inaugural and other events highlight ‘Oklahoma Firsts’

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 09-Jan-2011

Mary Fallin is scheduled to take the oath of office as Oklahoma’s 27th governor at noon Monday.  She is the first woman and the fourth Republican to become chief executive of the Sooner State.

At Saturday’s “Pre-Inaugural Fun for Families” event, the emphasis was on Oklahoma excellence. In brief remarks, Fallin and others encouraged children and young people to stay in school, study hard and remain in Oklahoma to pursue their dreams. Fallin attended the event with her husband Wade Christensen, who after Monday at noon will be deemed “the first gentleman.”

Performing at the family event, held at Science Museum Oklahoma, were the talented Karlee Wright, an emerging young singer, and Greyson Chance, the young man who became a worldwide singing and piano- playing sensation after posting a YouTube “cover” of a Lady Gaga hit.

Internationally-acclaimed entertainer and violinst Kyle Dillingham performed Fallin’s special request, a stunning version of “Orange Blossom Special.”  Then he closed his segment bringing the crowd to its feet with his version of the state song, “Oklahoma!”

Each performer praised Fallin and expressed appreciation for being involved in the event. Each also reinforced the message that hard work and dedication, combined with a good education, can bring success in Oklahoma. Veteran television journalist Jennifer Reynolds was mistress of ceremonies for the performance venue.

Also participating in Saturday’s event were “Derrick and the Ice Girls” from the Barons, the local American Hockey League franchise.

The kids-friendly event at the museum included clowns, facepainting, makeup artists, jugglers and tutorials on Indian dancing, as well as access to the facility’s widely varied exhibits. Three short films were also presented, sponsored by deadCenter Film Festival. Food was 
donated by the McDonald’s Corporation, with food for event  volunteers provided by Johnnies.

Fallin’s transition staff organized a “Feeding Oklahoma” Food Drive in cooperation with grocery stores and the state’s far-flung Farm Bureau offices. The drive will conclude with Monday’s inauguration.

Fallin’s inaugural activities have highlighted “Oklahoma Firsts” at the varied venues around the state. The series of inaugural events will conclude with a Monday night ball and dinner at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Earlier balls were held in Jenks (Saturday evening) and Ponca City (Friday evening). A prayer service is slated for today (Sunday, January 9) at Fallin’s home church, Crossings Community in Oklahoma City. Flowers and food from the balls are going to local charities soon after the events, organizers said.

Fallin won, the governor’s job after two decades in public service, including two terms in the state House of Representatives representing the near-north side of Oklahoma City, three terms as lieutenant governor, and two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from the Fifth Congressional District, with Oklahoma County as her home base.

As she takes office, Fallin faces significant fiscal and other policy challenges.