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Union hosts gala to honor President and MLK

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Union hosts gala to honor President and MLK
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While the President's Inaugural Ball was underway in Washington D.C., people across the country celebrated along with them. Our Cara Thomas tells us how one group in Syracuse took part in the festivities, while also honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

SYRACUSE -- Americans gathered around their televisions to watch President Barack Obama officially begin his second term in office.

David Edwards, a Syracuse resident, said, "I was glued to the TV, like almost mesmerized, like it was the NBA finals and it was the Miami Heat."

But for people in Syracuse, watching the festivities wasn't enough. They wanted to join in. So more than 400 people were dressed to the nines Monday evening to have an inaugural gala of their own.

Victoria Coits, representing the United Healthcare Workers, said, "It's just trying to give back to the community, give our appreciation for all the great work the community has done in politics for the last year."

1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers, a statewide healthcare union, hosted the event. And with the array of food, live music, and streaming of the Inaugural Ball in Washington, participants say they felt as if they were celebrating in the same room as the President himself.

Syracuse resident Mary Ellen Bloodgood said, "It certainly feels that way. And everybody's smiling, everybody's happy so if I couldn't be in Washington DC, which obviously I'm not, this is a good place to be."

But there was one other very influential man this crowd couldn't forget. Martin Luther King. Jr. was also recognized during their evening of elegance. And organizers say it's very fitting to honor both of these men on the same day.

Coits said, "Martin Luther King and Barack Obama have a lot in common as far as their goals and their vision for the nation so for this to be happening on the same day really speaks volumes."

"Without Martin Luther King, there's no Barack Obama. I grew up when racism was more prevalent than it is now. And like I said, I'm proud to be an American," said Edwards.

Party go-ers say this was a great way to kick off the start of a new Presidential term. They say they're hopeful and confident that President Obama will do great things over the next four years.

The United Healthcare Workers held numerous Inaugural Galas throughout the state, hosting them in Rochester and Buffalo as well.

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