Rite of passage every four years
Every four years in Virginia, a new governor takes office. As of January, 2010, Virginia is the last state in the union not to allow governors to immediately succeed themselves. The only governor to serve two non-consecutive terms was Mills E. Godwin (1914-1999). He not only served two non-consecutive terms, he served each as a member of a different party (Democrat: 1966-70, Republican: 1974-78). Usually, the inauguration takes place on the south lawn of the Capitol. But in 2006, the Capitol was undergoing renovation. The last governor, Tim Kaine, took the oath of office in Williamsburg. Virginia has had 71 governors including Gov. Bob McDonnell. I know or have met several, Bill Tuck (1946-50). Gov. Tuck was a friend of my grandfather's. Chuck Robb (1982-86), George Allen (1994-98), Jim Gilmore (1998-2002), and Bob McDonnell. On 16 January 2010, my friend Chris Woychak and I got up nice and early to head downtown for the inauguration because we assumed everybody and their brother-in-law would be queuing up outside the gates. We were pleasantly surprised to find we were seventh or eighth to queue up. We waited awhile outside the gate, but when they opened the gates at 9:30am we were rewarded for arriving early. We were told to go to the information booth and pick up tickets for seating before going through the security checkpoint. I understand that the dignitaries should get the best seats and I was grateful not to be standing. My only complaint was they put those of us who queued up first in the bleachers with the worst view of the action when those who came later, like my friend Lee Mitchell, got better seats. It made us regret getting up early to get down there when we could have slept in another hour or so to get a better view.
Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and Ken Cuccinelli were sworn in as governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general at noon spot on. After the new governing ticket took the oath of office there was a 19-gun salute, a Native American recognition ceremony from the eight tribes native to Virginia, and the 192d fighter wing of the Virginia Air National Guard did a flyover.
After they completed the business of the inauguration, the parade started. There were all manner of marching bands from high schools and universities across the commonwealth. Some of those bands displayed the diversity of Virginia like the Hope Chinese School in Great Falls. Instead of seeing the parade from the bleachers, Chris and I headed to the north lawn of the Capitol. We were so close to the parade that we could reach out and touch it. Not only were we able to see the parade more "up close and personal", but various dignitaries left the Capitol grounds via the northern lawn (the back yard of the Capitol).
Need more info?
My source of information on Richmond was:
- my Polish USA-East travel book,
- travel literature I got in Virginia Welcome Center by I-95 on the way from Washington D.C.,
- Nat (b1bob).
Add here pages on Richmond in VT (here) and Richmond Travel Forum (here).
Virginia travel information center was placed in the bell tower on my picture, in the southwestern corner of the Capitol Square (101 N. 9th Street; Richmond, VA 23219; tel. +1 (804) 786-4485; fax: +1 (804) 786-7736; e-mail: email@example.com ; open Mon-Fri 9.00 - 5.00 pm).
Richmond Visitor's Center
405 N. 3rd Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Opens: 9.00 am
Closes: 7.00 pm
Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitor's Bureau
City of Richmond
Richmond.com - internet portal,
Weather Channel's Local Forecast
Official Commonwealth of Virginia Home Page
Richmond International Airport
Greater Richmond Transit Company (Public Bus Service),
Richmond Times-Dispatch - local news,
Azalea Mall was Richmond's first enclosed shopping centre when it opened in Richmond's Northside in 1963. In its heyday, it was anchored by Woolco, Thalhimer's, and Woolworth's. There was also a Food Fair grocery store on the grounds (Pantry Pride took over after Food Fair bit the dust). Some of the more notable lesser tenants were Rees Jewelers, Worth's, Thom McAn, Edgar's (men's store), People's Drug (later to become CVS), and the Home Shop (a forerunner to today's Home Depot and Lowe's). I remember my folks buying shoes for my brother and me at either Hofheimer's (at one time they had monkeys in a glass display) or Juvenile Bootery. This may sound weird, but as a kid, I had a recurring nightmare about being accidentally locked into Azalea Mall all alone at night. My fondest memoury of Azalea Mall was in late July, 1975 just before Mama, Daddy, and I went to Nags Head, NC buying things at Woolco which we would need for that "long" trip. In general, I had fun tossing pennies in the water fountain in front of the Home Shop and Woolworth's.
Azalea Mall withered and dried up in the early 1990s with the addition of Virginia Centre Commons (also in Northside, a little ways up Brook Road) and it also was not helpful that the neighbourhood around Azalea Mall became more prone to crime and urban blight over the years. There mall closed in 1995 and it was razed in 1998. The only thing that remains is the Azalea Garden Center which is located at the same spot as the former garden centre for Woolworth's.
Since 1977, the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church holds a Greek Festival the first weekend in June. The festival has all sorts of Greek food, music and dance (Greek music is the most lively type that doesn't have a fiddle or a banjo), festival whatnots, and an agora (Greek style market) inside as well as a raffle for a trip to Greece. The festival has grown so much in popularity over the years that the folks who live near the church have complained. One year, they raised a big to-do about parking and sozzled festgoers drenching their prized petunias. There was talk about moving it to the Richmond Coliseum or Convention Centre, but that would take away from the outdoor neighbourhood feel that is more evident even than the Lebanese festival in nearby Glen Allen. To those fusspot neighbours, I say they should go to Hilton Head that weekend and leave the rest of us alone. My favourite things to eat here are the chicken souvlaki, the spanakopita (spinach and cheese pie), rice pilaf, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and baklava for dessert. You never know whom you might meet. Sometimes, politicians campaigning for office pop up here. In 1994, I met with Chuck Robb (then a U.S. Senator) and my friend and I just missed a gubernatorial candidate in 2005.
In 2006, Adam Bitely and my mama joined Lee and me. As always, we ate the good food, entered the raffle, danced to the lively music, and looked around the agora. That year, our candidate had us hand out his campaign fliers for him.
The Diamond stadium
The Richmond Braves, the minor league farm team for the Atlanta Braves, holds all its home games at the Diamond on the Boulevard just northwest of downtown Richmond.
The Diamond may not be home of the Braves much longer. A proposed new downtown baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom is said to produce a new and more intimate site for the Richmond Braves. The plan calls for a two or three story ballpark with 7500 seats on a 12-acre site east of Main Street Station in an area between Broad and Franklin Streets. Many people in Church Hill and Shockoe Bottom, nearest the proposed site, are opposed because of increased traffic and a real parking dilemma. Those of you who have visited Richmond know that parking slots are already at a premium before the first shovelful of dirt is turned. Fortunately, the Shockoe Bottom proposal isn't a done deal as of April, 2004.
I'm for keeping the Braves at the Diamond. Making repairs at the existing stadium is far less expensive. It's not like the Diamond is in the hinterlands of Brandermill. It is close enough to downtown to where you can see the taller buildings from the cheap seats. Get a clue, folks, and leave well enough alone! A good sturdy catcher's mit to catch any foul balls that make the stands. A hard hat may come in handy because recently a piece of concrete from the roof fell into the stands and, by the grace of God, missed a loyal Richmond Braves fan.