Thousands attend Northam inauguration: ‘We are here to celebrate’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Grandstands that seated 5,000 were filled when Governor Ralph Northam was sworn in on the south portico of the state Capitol on Saturday.

"It’s like the best day of my life and I’ve been here my whole life," said Bettie Anderson, who drove-in with her family from Chesapeake.

It's the 74-year-old's first time watching a Virginia governor inauguration in person.

"Just to be apart of something statewide and the whole nation was watching us," Anderson said. "I wouldn't have missed this for anything."

As the thousands streamed into Capitol Square, Rebecca Geller recounted the different walks of life seen in the crowd.

"I see diversity, I see youth, and I see excitement," Geller said. "People are excited about what we are going to do in Virginia."

Geller and her husband, Brad Channing, felt it was necessary to bring their two young sons from Northern Virginia.

"Some of the things we are seeing on the news right now we don't want our children to see," she explained. "For them to see excitement and positive energy coming from Richmond...these are the kinds of role models I want for my children."

Others saw Northam's win and the continued Democrat leadership at state level as the Commonwealth moving into a more progressive direction.

"I feel like Virginia is shifting in the right direction. I think people are exciting and invigorating. They're ready for a change," said Fatima Yousofi.

Attendees were also given blue plastic coffee cups of warm cider printed with the words "The Way Ahead."

"I'm looking for our state to become more energized and unity within our whole state," Anderson said.