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Tri-Lakes residents take in presidential transition

January 23, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO and CHRIS KNIGHT - Staff Writers ( , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - Korean War veteran Ted Morrow sat at the bar at the Veterans Memorial Association on Broadway shortly after noon Friday, Jan. 20, and in between sips of Budweiser he looked up at the new president of the United States, Donald Trump, on television.

On a warm and clear January day in Saranac Lake, Morrow took in the pomp and circumstance surrounding the 16th president of his lifetime, a lifetime he is proud stretches back to the days of the only president born on the fourth of July, Vermont's Calvin Coolidge.

"Keep Cool with Coolidge," Morrow exclaimed through a smile, recounting Coolidge's election slogan as he and Trump voter and bartender Christine Tallman weighed what they believed were the good and bad of a Trump presidency.

Article Photos

Josh Clement sings and plays guitar in Saranac Lake’s Berkeley Green around noon Friday, Jan. 20 during the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
(News photo — Chris Knight)

Keeping cool was the focus of many on a day when a divided America saw the official swearing in of one of its most polarizing candidates in history. Trump is a native New Yorker who, like Coolidge, had a historic campaign slogan: Make America Great Again.

This is Donald J. Trump, billionaire New York City real estate tycoon-turned-reality television star-turned populist savior and now the leader of the free world.

The transition from Barack Obama to Trump became official when the Republican newcomer to the White House placed his hand on his childhood Bible and the historic Abraham Lincoln Bible - an artifact donated by the Lincoln family to the Library of Congress the same year as Morrow's birth, 1928.

But all was not "kept cool" Friday. In the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., many protesters dressed in black and hiding behind face masks turned violent, throwing rocks and bricks at police, smashing car windows and lighting trash cans on fire. Behind riot shields, police used nonlethal crowd-control tools, such as pepper spray.

Across the country, interstate highways such as the Adirondack Northway flooded with millions of citizens descending on the nation's capital for today's Women's March on Washington. One caravan was an organized group of more than 65 Tri-Lakers departing Saranac Lake by coach bus.

And on social media, the us-versus-them mentality that encapsulated the 2016 election continued to incubate.

In response to Enterprise questions posed on Facebook asking readers how they feel about the next four years and what their message for President Trump would be, there was a split.

It didn't matter who they supported, most people key-stroked angry messages. One person wrote that Friday was "the best day in a long time" and asked to bless Trump and the American people. Another person wrote that it was "one (of) our saddest national embarrassments in our entire history."

Somewhere in the middle, there was the more measured reply of Kelly Hansen:

"May all Americans enjoy the fruits of liberty and be invigorated by unbridled opportunity."

Tri-Lakers scrambled to watch Trump's inauguration in a multitude of ways Friday, such as Olivia Zook of Saranac Lake. She tuned in to the Washington Post's live stream on her computer at Origin Coffee just as Trump stood opposite Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. A Trump critic, Zook had previously tuned the televisions at Bitters & Bones to the presidential debates. A few months later, her message to the new president was simple.

"Americans are watching," Zook said. "The eyes are on them now. Don't screw us over."

A few blocks down Main Street at the Downhill Grill, Kari Taylor of Tupper Lake sat eating lunch at the bar while the ceremony was broadcast on television.

"I'm optimistic, even though I'm very concerned," Taylor said. "I like to stay positive. I hope he does a good job and tries to improve things.

"There's going to be change, and I hope it benefits everybody. I hope he can put things into place that can help our economy."

Across the room, Scott Erickson of Long Island was having lunch with his daughter, C.J. Erickson, a North Country Community College student who was back in town to begin her second semester.

"It's time to start moving on," Scott Erickson said. "Some people like it. Some people don't like it."

Nevertheless, C.J. Erickson said she's worried a Trump presidency will move the country in the opposite direction from that of former President Barack Obama, specifically when it comes to the rights of women and minorities.

"People seeing someone like him elected strengthens their resolve, like I heard on the radio that some kids drew swastikas on trees outside a school," she said.

At the same time, C.J. Erickson said the government isn't controlled by just one person.

"There's checks and balances," she said. "Even some people in (Trump's) own party are like 'Eh' with him. So I'm just hopeful they'll keep everything in check."

In Saranac Lake's Berkeley Green, local musician and video production company owner Josh Clement was sitting on a bench in the sunshine, strumming his guitar and singing to passersby. He said it wasn't a protest; he just couldn't sit home and watch the inauguration on TV.

"We're inundated with what's happening today, so I thought this could be a good break for people walking by," Clement said.

"To me, it's character first," he added. "I take all the politics out of it. I've felt like I could go have a beer with President Obama, but I don't think I could do that now (with President Trump)."

Tim Burpoe, a former Franklin County legislator, was walking his dog by the park as Clement played. Burpoe said he watched some of the inauguration.

"He's our president now," Burpoe said. "He should be treated like a president."

At the same time, Burpoe said he's concerned about the country's direction under Trump's leadership.

"I wonder what the betting line is, the over-under, on whether he's going to make four years or not," Burpoe said. "I hope he's the best president ever, but I'm not optimistic."

To end the night, a few miles away at Lake Flower Landing, more than 60 people attended an "Alternative Inauguration Party" hosted by the new Saranac Lake-based grassroots political group Now What?

Musicians played various songs, including a version of the late Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," re-written by local Diane Peterson, with anti-Trump lyrics.

But event organizer Emily Warner said the night was mostly to have fun and celebrate Obama's past eight years. And while she gave an opening speech, a man in the crowd spoke up and provided some needed levity on a divisive day.

"Where is the souvenir table so I can get my red cap?" he shouted, poking fun at Trump's "Make America Great Again" baseball hats.

"That's at another venue," Warner retorted with a laugh.



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