More Alaskans appear headed to inaugural events than usual

Posted: Tuesday, January 16, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Susan Butcher and one of her sled dog teams will be joining dozens of other Alaskans headed to the nation's capital this weekend to participate in inaugural festivities.

Butcher, from Fairbanks, has promised to participate in Saturday's Inaugural Parade with her ''championship sled dog team,'' as parade organizers billed her appearance.

She has the 45th position in about 80 parade entries from around the nation.

Butcher, a four-time winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, couldn't be reached Monday. Her husband, Dave Monson, was running the Copper Basin 300, hoping to prove that the team still could lay solid claim to its championship billing.

Monson finished second to Dee Dee Jonrowe of Willow.

Melanie Alvord, a spokeswoman for Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, confirmed that Butcher planned to participate.

Attendance by Alaskans seems to be up this year, said Donna Murray, who works for Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska. This will be the third inauguration for which she has helped Alaskans obtain tickets and information.

''We've got a lot of people coming,'' Murray said. ''It's incredible. I'm shocked. I think there's a good 80, if not more, Alaskans coming down.''

Randy Ruedrich, chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska, said he helped distribute at least 50 tickets to the inaugural ball for Alaska.

''All the people that expressed an interest in going more than two weeks ago have tickets,'' Ruedrich told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. At this late date, though, ''they're kind of hard to come by.''

Attendees are assigned by state to one of nine balls. Alaska's ball is at the Washington Hilton on Saturday night.

Susan Butcher's dog team won't be the only Alaska feature turning heads in Washington.

The ''Enchanted World'' group from Anchorage will greet visitors in a hotel lobby at one of the balls.

The presentation will feature 28 people dressed in detailed costumes from different cultures around the globe. The ''dolls,'' who range in age from 9 to 26, interact with viewers in a choreographed, robotic style.

Linda Chase, president of Event Specialists Inc. in Anchorage, said the group is traveling on short notice. They received final permission from the presidential inaugural committee Friday and contacted their actors the following day.

The superintendent of schools in Anchorage excused the school-age participants, and Mayor George Weurch excused their robotics trainer, Steve Dunn, who has a day job as an Anchorage police officer.

Staging the show in Washington will cost $90,000, but Chase said they've already raised $75,000.

Attendance is free. ''We don't call it a performance, we call it presenting a gift,'' Chase said.



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