Citizenship Day 2017

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For many in Mass., Trump’s big day is no celebration

A “flash mob” of ukulele players will descend on South Station. Comedians will roast the sorry state of affairs at a show called “What a Joke” and give the proceeds to the ACLU. An artist plans to set up an “inauguration therapy” booth where disconsolate citizens can unburden themselves — and not get stuck with a $200 bill.

When Donald Trump takes the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, some Massachusetts residents will, of course, be glued to their televisions. But many in this deep blue state are going to creative lengths to try to soften the blow — or pretend the whole thing isn’t actually happening.

“It almost feels like a national day of mourning, at least here in this state, in this Commonwealth,” said Julie Ann Otis, an artist and poet in Somerville who plans to lend a friendly ear to anyone who wants to confide in her at her inauguration therapy booth in Washington, D.C.

While protesters will flood the streets and jubilant throngs will cheer President Trump in Washington, many Bostonians say they would rather ignore all of it.

Malia Lazu, president of Epicenter Community, a Roxbury nonprofit that seeks to diversify the city’s tech scene, said she initially looked online for flights to San Francisco, to be with her uncle, a former Democratic state lawmaker, on Inauguration Day. Ultimately, she decided to try to tune out Trump at work. Maybe, she said, she would organize a “hug-in” or watch cat videos.

“I think Inauguration Day should be a day of meditation; we should be internally facing to figure out how we have to be in these next four years,” Lazu said. “The idea of going to D.C. literally makes my skin crawl, even going to the protest.”

The yearning to hide under the desk appears to be widespread in this heavily Democratic state where Hillary Clinton trounced Trump by nearly 2-to-1 in November.

But the rejection of what is traditionally a moment of national unity has dismayed Trump supporters, who say citizens should not spurn the historic transfer of power just because they oppose the man taking office.

“People are just acting insane,” said Wade Fox, chairman of the Westford Republican Town Committee. “Some of these people saying, ‘He’s not my president.’ I wasn’t a real big fan of Obama, but I would never have said, ‘He’s not my president.’ He got elected. That’s it. You can’t do stuff like that.”

Fox said he plans to celebrate the inauguration with fellow Republicans at a restaurant after work.

George Bitzas, an Agawam city councilor and ardent Trump supporter, plans to drive to Washington with his wife, as well as another Trump supporter and his fiancee, so they can attend a “Make America Great Again” welcome concert, witness the oath, and then don formal wear for one of the inaugural balls.

“I’m very excited,” said Bitzas, a Greek immigrant who works in interior design. “It’s a dream to come from another country, come to this country, and go to the inauguration. It makes me very proud.”

The “What a Joke” show is one of nearly two dozen that comedians across the country have organized to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Many of us do not have any marketable skills, but we were like, ‘Oh, we can tell jokes and give the money to people who can do good stuff,’ ” said Emily Ruskowski, a comedian from Danvers who is an organizer of the Boston show. “We can’t just be depressed while the world burns.”

The ukulele “flash mob” is the brainchild of Chelsea Spear, a T busker who has already enlisted eight other ukulele players to perform “The Hanging Tree,” a song from the movie “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” about a man hanged for murder. The setting of the movie, a post-apocalyptic America ravaged by climate change, felt fitting for the Trump era, she said.

“I’ve heard a lot of people snicker and say a ukulele flash mob isn’t really going to change things,” Spear said. “It’s not. But I hope it will inspire people to take direct action.”

Jason Rabin, a singer and blues harmonica player from Medford, has issued an “Inauguration Day songwriting challenge” on Facebook that asks for original music to accompany Trump’s swearing-in, whether it’s a folk song, fight song, or funeral march.

“My feeling was it would be a great thing to hear and something to do other than watch the inauguration, which I would encourage people to skip,” he said.

But skipping the speech does not feel like an option for Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, who is worried about Trump’s harsh rhetoric about Muslims.

“Certainly, I will be watching the speech. He is our president,” Vali said.

Others want to channel their frustration into action.

In downtown Boston, about 75 volunteers have signed up to help 120 legal permanent residents from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and other countries fill out citizenship applications, at a daylong event organized by Project Citizenship, a local nonprofit.

“People are very scared, even people who are here legally,” said Inez Friedman-Boyce, a Boston attorney who plans to attend the event. She said she hopes to send a message to immigrants that “they’re not alone and there are people here to help them.”

Barbara Weniger, a Democratic activist and owner of Lakota Bakery in Arlington, traveled to Washington for both of President Obama’s inaugurals and baked a chocolate buttercream birthday cake for Obama when he visited Boston in 2008. Last fall, she booked a hotel room in Washington in hopes of witnessing Clinton’s inauguration.

Instead, she plans to spend the hours before Trump’s swearing-in baking cookies frosted with the “equals” sign, for equality — a small, sugary act of defiance. And then, she said, “We’ll just try to let that day slide on by.”