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Hundreds enjoy festive night at Celebrate Georgia Gala
Event replaced Deal's inaugural ball postponed by snow in January
Gov. Nathan Deal and first lady Sandra enjoy a dance Monday evening during the Celebrate Georgia Gala at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

The 2,400 crystals on Sandra Deal’s dress sparkled as Georgia’s 82nd governor twirled her around the dance floor.

Claps filled the ballroom as the couple took on some unfinished business — their first dance to “Georgia on My Mind.”

“We had to postpone this celebration, as you know, but as you can tell from my wife’s dress, we had to have this event so the ladies could wear their dresses,” Deal said with a smile. “It’s a time to enjoy. We have so many things to be thankful for.”

More than four months after Deal postponed his inaugural ball because of inclement weather, hundreds of people donned evening wear Monday for the Celebrate Georgia Gala at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

“I was so fortunate to have so many great members of the General Assembly working cooperatively, and I look forward for the many years to come,” Deal said. “But let’s take a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives, homes and businesses during the tornados last week to let them know that we have not forgotten.”

Many Gainesville and Hall County residents came to congratulate their native son on a successful first 100 days, including Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Billy Skaggs, chief operating officer of the state Department of Agriculture.

“It’s a great night. We’re so proud of our governor and what he’s been able to accomplish already during his first term,” Cagle said. “It’s a festive night we had to postpone, but it’s even sweeter after the successful session.”

When a snowstorm forced his swearing in ceremony indoors, Deal decided to postpone the Jan. 10 gala until the spring. The event changed from an inaugural celebration to a focus on the state, and the table decorations incorporated peanuts and cotton amid black tablecloths and candles.

“Being in a room this big with so many supporters is really special,” said Mary Rogers, a Hall County resident who attended the event with husband Bill Rogers, the state’s real estate commissioner. “We’ve been here about 10 minutes and we’ve already seen 20 people we know.”

Friends and family welcomed a night of glamour as they smiled, hugged and took a few steps in the spotlight.

“It’s a special evening for Atlanta and Gainesville, and it’s great to see so many happy people,” said Abit Massey, president emeritus of the Georgia Poultry Federation. “I’m going to check out the chicken and the dessert and then maybe some dancing.”

At the peak of the evening, Tricia Pridemore, co-chairperson of Deal’s inaugural team and a candidate for Georgia GOP chairman, introduced the first couple and their family.

“After a once-in-a-century ice storm, he was there to make a tough decision,” she said. “Many call him friend, family and neighbor, and I am proud to call him governor.”