During his gubernatorial campaign, Tony Evers would often say, "What's best for kids is what's best for our state."
He said "holy mackerel" a lot, too, but that's another story.
The state superintendent of public instruction and Democratic governor-elect will put the spotlight on children during the events scheduled to celebrate his Jan. 7 inauguration.
In the days leading up to the ceremony in the state Capitol where Evers and Lt. Gov.-elect Mandela Barnes will be sworn into office, the Evers team will hold three "kids' galas" in Madison, Milwaukee and Madison.
The children's events will feature "face painting, a DJ, bubbles, balloon twisting, and much more," according to promotions. Single tickets are available for $5 each, with a set for a family of four available for $15. Children age two and under can attend for free.
Performers at the Madison kids' gala — 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on Jan. 5 — include the James C. Wright Middle School Music String Scholars and DJ Nick Nice. Tickets include admission to the Madison Children's Museum.
Tickets to the Milwaukee kids' event — 3-5 p.m. on Jan. 5 — include admission to the Discovery World Science and Technology Museum, whose CEO, Joel Brennan, was appointed by Evers to serve as secretary of the state Department of Administration.
The Appleton children's event — 12-2 p.m. on Jan. 6 at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center — will include a performance by Bel Canto, the Lawrence Academy Girl Choir.
"Our Wisconsin is one where kids in every corner of the state can thrive and where their bright futures are essential to our plans to change the direction of our state for the better," Evers said in a statement.
General admission to the inauguration ceremony on Jan. 7 in the state Capitol will offer limited standing room only. Doors open at 10 a.m., with musical performances at 11 a.m. and the swearing-in of Evers, Barnes, Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, Treasurer-elect Sarah Godlewski and Secretary of State Doug La Follette starting at 11:30 a.m. Bags, backpacks, signs and banners are not allowed for this event.
Although space will be limited for the swearing-in ceremony itself, Evers and Barnes will greet members of the public from 1-3 p.m. in a receiving line outside the governor's office, located on the first floor in the Capitol's east wing.
The festivities will conclude with a black-tie-optional inaugural gala Monday evening honoring the governor-elect and the incoming first lady, Kathy Evers. Tickets, at $35 each, offer general admission for dancing and desserts from 7-11 p.m. at Monona Terrace in downtown Madison.
Performers at the gala include Madison's DJ Boyfrrriend, Oshkosh's KWT with Tom Washatka and Milwaukee's Abby Jeanne and New Age Narcissism.
All proceeds from ticketed inauguration events will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee, said inaugural committee spokesman Brandon Weathersby.
"As a premier provider of youth mentoring, Big Brothers Big Sisters shares Governor-elect Evers’ passion for children and invests its resources in providing children with strong one-to-one mentoring relationships for producing positive youth outcomes including, but not limited to, educational success and social and emotional development," a news release announcing the partnership read.
Proceeds from outgoing Gov. Scott Walker's inaugural galas in 2011 and 2015 benefited his campaign and the Republican Party of Wisconsin, but the celebrations included a food collection drive for the hungry. Before Walker, Democratic former Gov. Jim Doyle's galas benefited Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the state.
Previous inaugural galas have also included hospitality suites, where businesses or individuals paid to host attendees — suites went for $30,000 at the 2015 gala, for example. Weathersby said Evers' gala will not have hospitality suites.
On Twitter, organizers for the gala shared a list of businesses and organizations that have donated to the event: the Wisconsin Laborers' District Council, the Ho-Chunk Nation, IBEW Local 484, Kwik Trip, Wisconsin Pipe Trades, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Hoffman Construction, Potawatomi Casino, Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, MHS Health Wisconsin, Data Recognition Corporation, the Tavern League of Wisconsin, Charter Communications, Herzing University, Humana, Aurora Health Care, Northeast Wisconsin Building & Construction Trades Council, Michael Best Strategies, United Health Group, Alliant Energy, Marshfield Clinic, We Energies and the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants.