Gov. Nathan Deal's inaugural ceremonies kicked off today with a pair of volunteer visits in Atlanta and a tribute to the 25-year-old GOP aide who died just before the election.
The governor first journeyed to The City of Refuge near downtown and then visited Drew Charter School to help pack lunches for the homeless.
We were there for the latter trip, where about 150 volunteers, including state Sen. Brandon Beach, greeted the governor at the sparkling charter school complex. Also in attendance were Banks and Missy Burgess, the parents of Mack, the Deal aide who died in a car crash in October.
"We are so grateful for the support," Banks told the crowd. "Mack only lived 25 years, but it was a life of service. It just makes us so very proud to be a little bit a part of it."
The governor, who dedicated his election victory to the aide, choked up as he talked about his legacy.
"I can't elaborate sufficiently the great qualities that Mack possessed. Anyone would have been proud to have him as a son," said Deal. "Had he been here, he would have been smiling ear to ear."
It's the start of a busy stretch for Deal and other politicos.
The governor will hold private tours of his mansion Sunday for supporters. He'll attend a prayer service Monday as lawmakers return for the start of another busy legislative session, and later that day he'll be sworn in at 2 p.m. to formally begin his second term. Big speeches loom on Tuesday and Wednesday before his inaugural bash at Gwinnett Arena on Thursday evening.
With rain in the forecast, his staff is deliberating whether to move the swearing-in ceremony from the soon-to-be-opened Liberty Plaza complex across from the statehouse to the cozier House chambers.
"I wish I could expect it to be outside, but it appears now that it may not be the case," Deal said. "I think you'll find that there will be some interesting people that will be a part of the inauguration. There will be some guests, and they will be stars in their own right."