There will be no inaugural ball tonight: Here’s what will take its place


WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Joe Biden is sworn in as U.S. President during his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – There will be no lavish ballgowns and first dances tonight.

The traditional Inauguration Day ball has been canceled for 2021.

“We definitely want to honor the big, broad traditions of the inaugural,” Tony Allen, the Inaugural Committee’s chief executive, told the Washington Post. “But we also want to be sensitive to the realities of the moment, have safety protocols first and foremost.”

In lieu of the ball, Tom Hanks will be hosting a primetime special Wednesday night.

 “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will contribute a classical recitation, joining musicians like Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi. Hosts Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria will be joined by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, chef Jose Andres, labor leader Dolores Huerta and Kim Ng, the first female general manager in MLB history.

The inaugural committee has made sure to blend this high-powered list with ordinary Americans and inspiring stories. Segments will include tributes to a UPS driver, a kindergarten teacher and Sandra Lindsay, the first in New York to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial.

You can watch the performances on the Biden Inaugural Committee’s official channels, including its website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch. Networks ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, NBC and MSNBC will also air the special live on television at 8 p.m. ET.

According to the White House Historical Society, the first Inaugural Ball was held in 1809 to honor President James Madison and his wife, Dolley. The event reportedly drew some 400 guests and was such a hit that it set a precedent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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