Thousands of revelers bopped among dinosaur bones and dioramas into the night Tuesday — some in blue sneakers — to celebrate the inauguration of newly minted Gov. Jared Polis, who promised to "do the people's business joyously" as he endeavors to make Colorado a state "where anyone can thrive."
Well-wishers mingled and swayed inside a packed Denver Museum of Nature and Science at the Polis inaugural committee's Blue Sneaker Ball — a nod to the governor's favored comfortable footwear. They sipped on locally produced libations and enjoyed guacamole and hummus as '80s pop icon Cyndi Lauper belted out one familiar tune after another.
"We love you, Cyndi!" a party-goer shouted as the blond songstress took the stage alongside Polis and his partner, Marlon Reis, Colorado's inaugural first gentleman, and Polis' predecessor, fellow Democrat John Hickenlooper and his wife, Robin.
"I love you too, Colorado!" Lauper responded to the surging crowd. Casting her heavily lashed gaze at the incoming and outgoing governors and their spouses, she smiled. "Congratulations."
Earlier in the day, Lauper tweeted her approval as Polis was sworn in on the steps of the state Capitol.
"I am watching a monumental moment in Colorado," she tweeted. "Gov. Elect Jared Polis is being sworn in as the first openly gay governor of Colorado. I am so proud to be performing at the party this evening. Here’s to a great new year! Xx"
After Lauper and her band regaled fans with a set that lasted more than an hour, including hits "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," "Time After Time" and "She Bop," Colorado favorite Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats turned up the heat with a roots-tinged set of R&B tunes.
Before the musicians took the stage, incoming and outgoing governors briefly addressed the crowd of more than 2,000.
Said Hickenlooper, the state's chief executive for eight years: "Jared will lead Colorado as Colorado leads this country — into the future." Adding that it was his last day as a public servant — "at least for a while," a hint at the rumored launch of his presidential campaign — the former governor concluded, "We're going to make him a lot better governor than I was."
Polis said that when he launched his campaign a year and a half ago, he told a longtime aide, "We want to be bold, we want to be consistent, we want to avoid unforced errors, and we want to be joyous every day. We did that."
In an election that swept Democrats to power in Colorado up and down the ticket, Polis, an internet entrepreneur and five-term congressman from Boulder, defeated Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton by a wide margin, at the same time Democrats won majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.
The morning's inauguration, Polis said, "set the tone that Colorado is a state where everyone can thrive. We want you to be able to live your Colorado dream in our great state. The work has begun today. With your help, we will make our state even more amazing, but tonight let's have some fun!"
Tickets to the gala cost $75 for general admission and $1,000 for VIP access, with proceeds benefiting local charities the Rose Community Foundation, the Keensqesburg-Based Wild Animal Sanctuary, Adams 14 Education Foundation and the Governor's Residence Preservation Fund. A spokeswoman for the ball's sponsoring organization, Colorado for All, said the committee plans to release its fundraising totals before the end of the month.