During the event, the sun peeped out and spread throughout the restaurant. Some said they’d “waited years” for a change in guard while others were just glad it was not going to be “politics as usual.”
Julie Brockman, president of the Republican Women of Wilson County, said the group was “pretty elated” at the outcome of the election. She said Trump’s speech “reached out” to all sectors.
“He did that also at the convention,” said Brockman. “I was one of those who got to go the convention. He just seems to be inclusive. I am looking forward to some changes, but right now I am on top of the world.”
In keeping with the general mood, Terri Richman Nicholson, treasurer of the Wilson County GOP board, also said it was a good day.
“This is such a very exciting time for us,” said Nicholson. “We are just thrilled with the new 45th president of the United States. It’s an exciting time for the country. We couldn’t be more thrilled with today’s events.”
Becky Hoback, who was wearing a “deplorable and adorable” T-shirt, and who is a new member of the Republican Women of Wilson County, said it “had been a long time coming.”
“I have waited eight years for this, or longer. I am so excited. It just brought tears to my eyes. He just talks without using a teleprompter,” Hoback said.
With Hoback was Patti Cooper, who was glowing.
“I stay in touch with [state Sen.] Mae Beavers, and I got an email from her that told me about the event. I think today is better than Christmas,” said Cooper. “Nothing is going to ruin this day for me.”
Barbara Payne, who had a booth all to herself from where she watched the morning’s events, put it simply.
“I am just looking forward to the next four years,” said Payne.
It was a much different scene in other parts of the state Friday as members of Concerned Citizens for Justice joined with a couple dozen other protesters in downtown Chattanooga Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrators across America following Trump’s inauguration.
The protesters waved signs and flags and chanted, ”not my president,” on the sidewalk in front of the EPB building downtown.
While the demonstration was kindled by Trump’s inauguration, Nathan King, a member of CCJ, said there were other objectives, as well.
He said protesters were trying to ”bring local attention to more than just Trump.”
Specifically, he said they were calling on Sen. Bob Corker to reject several of Trump’s cabinet appointments, including Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nomination for secretary of state.
Corker has ”every reason to oppose these appointments,” King said.
In Nashville, about 35 anti-Trump protesters and LGBT rights advocates gathered at the state Capitol. Some demonstrators duct-taped themselves together.
A crowd of protesters chanted ”the people united will not be defeated.” They were answered by a counter protesters shouting, ”you’re all going to hell” and ”pray the gay away.”
Tennessee state troopers arrested several demonstrators.
The Chattanooga Times-Free Press contributed to this report via Tribune News Service.