SALT LAKE CITY — The various feelings of Utahns about Donald Trump's presidency will be in strong relief in Washington, D.C., this week as thousands from the Beehive State travel to the U.S. capital for Trump's inauguration.
At least one Utahn will be on the stand at the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. A few dozen have tickets for seats at the event. More than 2,000 Utahns secured tickets to stand on the Washington Mall for the inauguration. After Trump takes the oath, some will attend one or more of the three inaugural balls on Friday night.
Of course, the swearing-in ceremony will feature 215 members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Utah-based Piano Guys will perform at three events that are part of the inauguration weekend — a Thursday-night concert and two inaugural balls.
But not all who are traveling to D.C. are making the trek to watch or participate in the historic transfer of presidential power or to celebrate the winner of a polarizing election. In fact, one member of the Piano Guys said his group is under attack and asked for called for civility.
Boxing gloves will be a common accessory for many of the 700 Utahns who will join the Women's March on Washington on Saturday morning to protest a new president they consider a polarizing, disrespectful bully who has attacked women, Muslims and immigrants. Trump acknowledged the divisiveness in a tweet of his own this week, saying "it will change." In fact, he will be sworn while polls show his favorable rating at 40 percent, the worst in decades.
Still, 10,000 Utahns applied for the state Republican Party's allotment of 2,000 tickets to the swearing-in ceremony, said the party chair, James Evans.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will have a prominent seat on the stand for the swearing-in ceremony as the president pro tempore of the Senate, fourth in line to the presidency. As reported last week, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and other state leaders will attend, as well.
Hatch is pleased Utah will be so well-represented this week at inauguration events that President-elect Trump, in a tweet last week, said will be "very, very special, very beautiful."
"This is symbolic of the role Utah is going to play in this administration," Hatch said Tuesday on KSL NewsRadio's "Doug Wright Show."
Saturday's women's march is expected to include over 200,000 protesters. The theme for the 700 Utah women who plan to join the protest will be boxing gear. The idea is to throw a jab at what the Utah organizers believe to be the national perception of the state's women.
"We want to debunk the stereotype and show that Utah women are tough and strong," said Kate Kelly, the former leader of Ordain Women, now a human rights attorney in Salt Lake City who plans to take the Utah bar exam next month.
Kelly hoped the march would send a strong message.
"I think that the inauguration of Donald Trump to the presidency is a symptom of a much larger problem. A lot of folks are waking up to the fact women's rights aren't accepted or promoted in the United States. I'm excited to go back to D.C., because hundreds of thousands are going."
Hatch said he is disappointed this inauguration has a different feel than others he has attended in his 40 years in the Senate.
"This is a very, very important celebration," Hatch said. "I'm hopeful the Democrats will not be so coarse and snotty that they'll try and do a demonstration during the inauguration. ... Whether you agree with him or not, you ought to respect the office and respect at least the inauguration as one of the great things that happens in this world."
He said Democrats should do what he said they had called on Trump to do if he lost the election.
"During the campaign everyone wanted to know, 'Will you support whoever wins?' The only person they were concerned about was Trump. Now they're talking about not supporting him. It's pretty pathetic. They just can't admit they were beaten fair and square, constitutionally."
Trump's inaugural committee has raised $90 million for the concerts and inaugural balls, but the cost of the actual swearing-in ceremony on the Capitol steps is shouldered by Congress and the military because it is prescribed by Article II of the U.S. Constitution.
The Piano Guys "were blown away" to get an invitation to perform, one of the group's members, Jon Schmidt, told KSL's Wright.
"We just couldn't believe we were being invited. It just felt like such a huge honor. The event is special, so we just thought it was a no-brainer. Well, actually, we thought that at first, but then we thought, 'We're going to take some heat.' We got together and we had to really try to figure it out."
The Piano Guys will perform their original song "It's Gonna Be Okay" at the concert, which might draw as many as 1 million people, Schmidt said the group has been told.
Schmidt understood that some feel it is naive of the band to believe that rather than endorsing Trump with its appearance, it is taking part in a peaceful transfer of power that Schmidt characterized as a miracle.
"We've come under attack on our site this week by a lot of people. As we discuss ideas with people, I think the key is respect. ... When we start to shame each other, I don't think that's respectful."
Mormons aren't the only religious group split over Trump. The Washington National Cathedral, the historic home of the Episcopal Church, is divided over both the inclusion of the National Cathedral’s Choir of Men, Boys and Girls in the inauguration and the use of the cathedral for the interfaith National Prayer Service on Saturday.
The prayer service will joined by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Christofferson will attend the inauguration on Friday with another Mormon apostle, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, as the Deseret News was first to report on Friday.
Despite the $90 million fundraising campaign, the three days of events planned around the oath are actually toned down compared to recent inaugurals. For example, events for President Barack Obama's first inauguration stretched across five days, and President Bill Clinton appeared at 14 inaugural balls; Trump plans to appear at three.
Also, the inaugural parade is scheduled to last 90 minutes, the shortest on record.
Inaugural committee spokesman Boris Epshteyn characterized Trump's inauguration as relatively "workmanlike."
Still, Trump tweeted that he expects "massive crowds." The inauguration is expected to draw 800,000 people to the Washington Mall between the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial. Obama's first inauguration drew 1.8 million people.8 comments on this story
There are unofficial events planned around the inauguration, too.
Several members of Utah's congressional delegation will join a "Red, White and Western" celebration on Thursday evening for the combined Senate Western Caucus and Congressional Western Caucus.
Meanwhile, the Women's March isn't limited to Washington, D.C. More than 300 solidarity marches are planned Saturday. Five will be held in Utah, in Ogden, Park City, St. George, Kanab and Moab.
A march also is scheduled in Salt Lake City on Monday, also, the first day of the 2017 Utah Legislative session.