The Lead

In Lancaster, a celebration of Shapiro, Davis and ‘the goodness of Pennsylvania’

By: - January 18, 2023 7:21 am

Gov. Josh Shapiro addressed an electrified crowd at his inaugural celebration on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (Capital-Star photo by Peter Hall)

LITITZ, Pa. — In front of an electrified crowd at his inaugural celebration Gov. Josh Shapiro said he was humbled and grateful, and eager to get to work for the people of Pennsylvania. With Lt. Gov. Austin Davis by his side, Shapiro said the celebration featuring big-name performers with Pennsylvania roots wasn’t just about his and Davis’ electoral victory.

Singer Smokey Robinson performs at Gov. Josh Shapiro’s inaugural celebration on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (Capital-Star photo by Peter Hall)

“Tonight is a night to celebrate Pennsylvania, the goodness of Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said following a performance by Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill. “A place where we believe in opportunity, a place where we believe in real freedom.”

“And, yo Meek, the place where we believe in second chances,” Shapiro added in a shout-out to Mill’s recent pardon by former Gov. Tom Wolf on drug and weapons charges from 2008.

Shapiro and Davis’ inaugural event was held in a massive production studio at Rock Lititz, a Lancaster County performance rehearsal facility. Sweeping lights, open bars and lounge areas gave the space a nightclub atmosphere.

In addition to Mill, performers included Motown legend Smokey Robinson, Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa, and Mt. Joy, a Los Angeles-based rock band with roots in Philadelphia.

Robinson, regaling the crowd with stories about his collaboration with singer Stevie Wonder, also said he had spent some time with Shapiro.

“Great choice, you guys,” Robinson said.

Before the evening’s entertainment, supporters, family, and friends of Shapiro and Davis mingled and sampled from a smorgasbord of Pennsylvania foods including pierogies, pork and sauerkraut, cheesesteaks, and Primanti Brothers sandwiches.

Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill performs at Gov. Josh Shapiro’s inaugural celebration on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (Capital-Star photo by Peter Hall)

Those in attendance expressed excitement and optimism about what the Shapiro-Davis administration could accomplish in the next four years.

“I think the Shapiro-Davis team will do fantastic work for the state,” Lowell Thomas, a Philadelphia attorney, said.

Thomas added the start of the new administration brought a feeling of rebirth, hope, and optimism.

“It’s corny stuff, but it’s important,” Thomas said. “After the pandemic, we need to get out and breathe some fresh air and hopefully do it with some money in the bank.”

Brian Hudson, the former executive director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, worked on Shapiro’s transition team as a committee member on finance, insurance, and housing.

“I call it opportunity,” Hudson said, calling Shapiro a governor attuned to the people. “Delivering services, I think that’s what’s going to happen.

Mike Begley, who worked on Shapiro’s security detail in the attorney general’s office, said he was proud to attend the event with his wife Cindy.

“He can work with everybody,” Begley, of Abbington, Montgomery County, said. “He’s a guy that listens to people and knows how to solve problems.”

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Peter Hall
Peter Hall

Peter Hall has been a journalist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 20 years, most recently covering criminal justice and legal affairs for The Morning Call in Allentown. His career at local newspapers and legal business publications has taken him from school board meetings to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and many points of interest between. He earned a degree in journalism from Susquehanna University.