LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State Sen. Jason Allen has been to every inauguration for a Republican president since 1984. He plans to make it four in a row with another trek to Washington this week.

Allen, of Traverse City, is among the Republican faithful from Michigan who will be on hand for President Bush’s second inauguration. Festivities began Tuesday with a program to honor members of the military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This is a celebration that is part history, and we’re participating in that,” said Allen, who is making the trip with his parents, wife and daughter.

A number of other Michigan Republicans will experience a presidential inauguration for the first time.

Jennifer Hoff, a spokeswoman for the state House GOP, said she’s going because it may be her only chance to see the U.S. president take the oath of office. Bush will be sworn in on Thursday by U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

“This is the president being sworn in. It’s a president I have a lot of respect for and one that I spent a lot of time volunteering for. Who knows if I ever will be at a point in my life when I can go see an inauguration,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity.”

Hoff is among those looking forward to attending balls that are part of the inauguration. She has tickets to the Michigan State Society Ball at the Smithsonian American History Museum and the ball for the president’s home state of Texas.

The state’s congressional delegation is sponsoring the Michigan State Society Ball, which is set for Saturday. Michigan’s officially sanctioned ball, the Freedom Ball at Union Station, also includes Alaska, Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana and Kansas. It will be on Thursday.

Some people have questioned whether tens of millions of dollars should be spent on Bush’s second inauguration with the ongoing war in Iraq, December’s devastating tsunami in South and Southeast Asia and the national deficit hitting a record-breaking $412 billion last year.

District of Columbia officials expect the costs for the inauguration, the first since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to be at least $17.3 million.

Michigan Rep. David Palsrok, a Manistee Republican who is making his first trip to see a presidential inauguration this week, said it’s important to recognize the historic event.

“It celebrates the transfer of power in a peaceful manner,” he said. “It is an event that should be promoted and highlighted so people around the world can see how true democracy works. We’re not having a revolution in the street even though just less than half the people who voted didn’t support the president.”

Although Michigan’s 17 electoral votes went to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in the November election, a spokesman for the state Republican Party said the inauguration celebrates the hard work of Bush’s campaign in the state.

 

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