Brainerd attorney Brook Mallak got chills after settling in for lunch Tuesday afternoon at Matty's on Highway 210 in east Brainerd.
It wasn't the food that got to Mallak, though that was one of the reasons she went to the restaurant. What held her attention was taking place on the television hanging over the dining area - Barack Obama being sworn in as the nation's 44th president.
"You can't miss out on history," Mallak said. "It's history in my lifetime, that's for sure.
"It's historic for the nation as a whole and I think for myself, being a racial minority, it's personal to see something wonderful like this happen."
All four televisions at Matty's were tuned into Obama's inauguration. Paul Waagen, a cook at the restaurant, watched what he could of the ceremony in between preparing food orders.
Chad Siebels, an employee at Matty's restaurant on Highway 210 in east Brainerd, paused from his work Tuesday to listen to President Barack Obama's inaugural speech. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls» Purchase reprints of this photo.
"I mean it's a wonderful thing. The support everybody had behind it and obviously with the crowd. It was overdue by at least four years," Waagen said. "I'm in a good mood. I think it's a great thing."
Televisions throughout the Brainerd area were tuned to the inauguration.
At Best Buy in Baxter, a few customers watched the inauguration on the store's televisions, while employees watched on computers or in the break room.
"It was really exciting," employee Sarah Heil said. "We all enjoyed it."
Store manager Jesse Jordan said employees got a few laughs out of minor gaffes made during the inauguration, such as when Obama stumbled during his oath and when Obama said he was the 44th person to serve as president. There have been only 43 presidents, Jordan noted, as President Grover Cleveland counts as both the 22nd and 24th presidents.
Assistant Crow Wing County Attorney Dave Hermerding met Obama two years ago while his family was in Iowa looking at a college his oldest son was thinking of attending.
Hermerding and his family were early for their appointment and happened upon an Obama campaign stop in a coffee bar. He said Obama was amazed at the size of Hermerding's family of six children and to learn two of Hermerding's daughters - Maya and Malia - shared the same first names as one of Obama's daughters and another relative.
On Tuesday, Hermerding caught bits and pieces of the inauguration between court appearances.
"These are very exciting times," Hermerding said. "We were talking about that last night. My daughter had a school project on Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech and certain portions of that now have been realized. That's very neat."
At the Last Turn Saloon in downtown Brainerd, manager Jilene Laney watched the inauguration with interest. She hoped the nation would show patience for Obama.
"Everybody is expecting change right now but it will take awhile," Laney said. "We're putting a lot on this man's shoulders. I don't want people to be disappointed right off the bat."
Though her business was empty for the inauguration - Laney figured most people were watching from home or work - she expected a large crowd with a DFL rally scheduled Tuesday night at the Last Turn.
"This is history," Laney said. "We now have a black man as president and we almost had a white woman. Things are changing and it's interesting."
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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