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Olympic College celebrates in presidential style

Large crowd turns out for Obama celebration.

The Bremer Student Center at Olympic College in Bremerton brought the inauguration party flavor in Washington, D.C. to Kitsap County Tuesday night.

More than 100 people of all ages, races and professions filled the center to celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Obama in grand style.

With several performances by OC student groups, brief speeches by student and community leaders, a smattering of local black history and even a cut-out of the president himself, the celebration more than met organizers’ expectations.

“This is so great,” said co-event organizer Shaylynn Houston, who works at OC’s Multicultural Service Center. “I don’t just see OC, I see the entire community.”

OC Multicultural Services Center Director Rachel Wellman credited Houston and the rest of the center’s staff for making the night such a huge success.

“They did a great job putting this together, and it was their idea,” Wellman said, as crowds worked their way through the lines for free food served by OC’s culinary arts program.

When asked where the idea for the party originated, Houston was quick to credit her 3-year-old daughter for being the inspiration.

“She wanted to have an Obama party and we talked about it with Rachel (Wellman) and decided to do what we could,” Houston said.

Earlier in the day while watching Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, Houston said her daughter demonstrated her strong affinity for the president, who looks like her.

“She saw that he was a little nervous and said she wanted to give him a hug, so she went up to the TV and gave him a hug and a kiss,” she said. “It brought tears to my eyes.”

Before Tuesday’s event, the center had been discussing its plans for Black History Month, which is next month, and noticed that Obama’s inauguration fell on the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which was inspirational in and of itself, she said.

That combined with the strong connection that her 3-year-old feels for the president made Tuesday’s celebration all the more special, she said.

As the ceremony began, Houston opened with a poem written by Wellman titled, “I Am Here Today,” which spoke about how things have changed now that the president is black and the impact his leadership could have on the entire nation and world.

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