TALLAHASSEE. -- "This will be Florida's greatest century. Second best is no longer acceptable. This will be the time when we take our rightful place, not near the top--but at the top. My friends, with your help, Florida will stand before the world as a shining symbol of all that can be achieved," promised Charlie Crist, to nearly 4,000 well wishers after being sworn in as Governor Tuesday. Crist was voted into the top job November 2006 after beating Democrat, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis. "The General" as supporters, including the President, have nicknamed Crist, replaces outgoing Governor and fellow Republican Jeb Bush, who held the seat for eight years and due to term limits had to relinquish the post. Crist, 50, said he felt there was no nobler work than in public service. A former lawyer ensconced in private practice, Crist has walked the walk. For the last four years he has served as Florida's Attorney General. Also a former State Senator, Crist additionally served as the Education Commissioner. In his inaugural speech, as the state's top employee, he promised to improve Florida's education system, offer property tax relief and introduce ideas to solve homeowner's property insurance woes.
The inauguration took place precisely at noon on the steps of Florida's Old Capitol with State Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred Lewis performing the swearing in while Crist's parents, Dr. Charles and Mrs. Nancy Crist of St. Petersburg witnessed him give the oath for office on the family Bible.
The moment was marked dramatically by members of the National Guard who shot a series of cannons off, followed by a fly-by of four military planes that zoomed over the gathering.
Prior to Crist's swearing in, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, Attorney General Bill McCollum, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson gave their oaths for office.
After the ceremony and inaugural speech, Crist led the inauguration parade, waving to the public from a red Ford Mustang convertible that made its way to the Governor's Mansion and a street fair and barbecue. Crist stood with friends, family and fair-goers in front of his new home as several marching bands including those from his alma maters, St. Petersburg High and Florida State University, serenaded him with rollicking marches. FSU's Seminoles' united all as everyone, including Governor Crist joined in the tomahawk air chopping throughout the song. The Florida A&M Marching 100 band further elevated the mood, along with some eyebrows, when they ended their number by dropping to the ground and performing a mini break dance.
Other inaugural events Tuesday included a prayer breakfast at Florida A&M University, and tours of the mansion. Early in December 2006, Crist canceled plans for an inaugural ball, which would have called for solicitation of half million dollar donations to sponsor. Initially in favor of the costly event, Crist cancelled it after criticism from the press, saying it was a mistake to approve scheduling a lavish ball while Floridians are burdened with unprecedented homeowner's insurance costs and property taxes.
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