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As Transition Nears, Falls Church Residents Tell News-Press of Their Inauguration Plans

Madison, Jennifer and Matt Keelen of Falls Church review official invitations to the Donald Trump Presidential Inauguration this Friday. (Photo: News-Press)
Madison, Jennifer and Matt Keelen of Falls Church review official invitations to the Donald Trump Presidential Inauguration this Friday. (Photo: News-Press)

The weather at the Falls Church Farmers Market in early January was not too different from many presidential inaugurations. The wind snarled. Temperatures hovered in the mid-20s. Snow began to fall.

Falls Church, along with much of Northern Virginia, voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in November’s election and as Donald Trump prepares to be sworn into office Friday, some customers at the market were asked about their plans for the inauguration.

Roger Desouza and his wife, Pascale, are “fleeing to Iceland” for a few days because of the results.

Under a vendor’s tent, Desouza grimaced while holding a plastic bag, which his wife filled with produce.

“We would have stayed for Hillary, he said. “We wanted to own the day and make it ours.”

Ginger Smith of Falls Church was walking around the marketplace, her tiny frame covered in winter gear and her face partially hidden, save for her eyes and mouth, which emitted puffs of white steam while she talked. No, she’s not going because of who won.

Her nearby companion, John Johnson, shook his head.

“There are too many people,” he said. “Security, security, security.”

Instead, Johnson and Smith are going to try and get to the Women’s March the next day.

Tim Stevens of Falls Church is not planning to upset his tradition with this year’s inauguration.

“No particular reason,” he said about why he stays home. “I just don’t go.”

Strolling the marketplace in no hurry was David Fuscus of McLean, whose public relations company will shut down for the big day since it’s located inside the security perimeter on Capitol Hill.

He’s also not going to the inauguration, but he did have a recommendation about the inaugural balls: Don’t go.

“They are so crowded,” he moaned. “You can’t get a taxi. It takes an hour and a half to check your coat, an hour and a half to get a drink.”

Another Falls Church resident, Arnold Baker — “a hardcore Democrat forever,” he says of himself — attended both Obama inaugurations but “has no interest in going [this year].”

“I couldn’t take it,” Baker said. “I see no good reason to go intentionally or otherwise to support this president-elect.” He and his wife, Judy, will stay at home.

Elected representatives from the area will also be staying away Friday.  U.S. Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr. who represents the 8th District of Virginia, including the City of Falls Church, announced Monday that he was joining the growing list of Congressional democrats boycotting the inauguration ceremonies.  “[Donald Trump’s] values and his actions are the antithesis of what I hold dear,” Beyer said in a statement. “It would be the height of hypocrisy for me to pretend to be part of this inaugural celebration.”

Fellow U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, who represents the 11th District of Virginia that includes much of Greater Falls Church, said in a statement that he was also refusing to attend.

One Falls Church resident, Republican strategist Matt Keelen, does plan to attend with his family.

A friend and former employee of Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Keelen said that he and his wife are going to the inauguration itself plus two inaugural balls, one on Thursday night at the Library of Congress, hosted by House speaker Paul Ryan, and the second on Friday night at the Liberty Ball at the Washington Convention Center.

“It’s great to celebrate our country, even if you’re on the other side,” Keelen said. “It’s a crazy day. You’ve got to be really motivated to go, but it’s one of the beauties of living here.”

Keelen has seats on the Capitol grounds for the swearing-in, and the family plans to watch the parade from a building balcony on Constitution Avenue, which boasts comfy indoor and outdoor seating.

But other conservatives in the area said they don’t plan on going.

Laid up with an injury and not planning to attend is the chair of the Falls Church City Republican Committee, Matt Kahn. Last week he got a call from the Trump team requesting a list of local attendees, a list that Kahn did not have ready.

Ken Feltman, the previous chair of the Falls Church Republicans, is another no-go.

“Years ago it was a mob scene,” Feltman recalls. “You’ve done it once, you don’t need to do it again.”

He’s going to the Women’s March the next day “and crash that party with my wife. We can hear about [Friday] then.”

Falls Church City Council member David Snyder will be in the District on Friday as a volunteer at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, which will throw open its doors to all suffering in the cold.

“Our purpose is to create a welcoming space” for those who need warmth and maybe some church history, Snyder said. (Tours will be offered.) On the guest list are peacemakers, equal rights advocates, protesters, and anyone not defined by purpose.

He advises inauguration visitors to “use transit and dress warmly because the weather is usually horrendous.”