Kids Celebrate Obama With Own Inaugural Ball

Howard University News Service

At 15, one’s remembrance of history can be framed by an encounter with celebrity or an intersection with raw opportunity. Such was the case on the eve of the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president.

“This hand,” Kelsey Powell declared, holding her right hand up with her left. “I reached over four rows and touched Bow Wow with this very hand.”

Coming close to a rap phenom marked a triumphant end to a day that began with Powell not knowing that she would attend the Kids Inaugural Ball: We Are the Future Concert. The concert, held at the Verizon Center in Washington, was in honor of families with relatives in military service. She was thrilled when she learned that Cynthia Cruise, her aunt, a U.S. Defense Department employee dubbed the “best aunt in the world” by her niece, had received four free tickets. The only snag was that one of the four was floor-seating while the other three were in the nosebleed seats, according to Powell’s sister, Katie, 13.

“The only reason she [Kelsey] got to have the floor ticket is because she is turning 16 in two months,” Cruise explained with a laugh. “Otherwise I would have had it and been down there. Jamie Foxx and Usher are still in there, you know.”

The concert was televised on the Disney Channel from 8-9:30 p.m. The lineup included a diverse mix of talent, most of them Disney stars. Guest celebrities included Usher Raymond IV, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer and George Lopez. Performers included Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus, Bow Wow, Cordon Bleu, and the Jonas Brothers.

The event was hosted by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, Vice-President-Elect Joe Biden’s wife. “First Daughters” Malia and Sasha Obama, along with the Biden granddaughters, were among the thousands of children and adults that screamed and danced during the performances.

After songs performed by Miley Cyrus and Bow Wow and introductions by Foxx and Lopez, Michelle Obama addressed the audience and emphasized the importance of individual service for the nation.

“You don’t need a uniform to serve the country,” Obama said. “We all have something to offer the nation.” She said children should know that they are the future and that they should explore a variety of opportunities to serve through volunteering in their communities.

Children of one Navy and two Army families, Brailen Mills, 7, and his sisters Kennedy, 9, and Avery, 4, and their friends Hannah Reichner, 9, Isabelle Strobie, 6, walked away from the concert with not only memories of the event, but also pockets filled with souvenir confetti and $5 pictures of their favorite celebrities. They did not know they would be attending the concert until that day.

“It was kind of last minute,” Dawn Mills, mother of Brailen, Kennedy and Avery said. The kids did not know that they were going to the concert, so it was a surprise for all of them.

The girls admitted to being most excited about seeing their favorite pop idol, Miley Cyrus, but Brialen, the only boy in the group, was firm about his favorites.

“Bow wow,” Brailen affirmed. He added Usher as a second thought.

The Jonas Brothers gave the most eagerly anticipated and widely enjoyed performance. Some were practicing their screams for them before the concert even began. Although it was Bow Wow that she touched, Kelsey Powell said she would happily run away with either Nick or Joe Jonas.

“I believe in share and share alike,” Powell said. “And keeping my options open.”