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Oddballs: Unofficial Events Offer Alternatives to D.C. Inaugural Partying

With 10 official balls and more than 100 unofficial events coinciding with the inauguration of the nation's 44th president, Barack Obama can't be expected to show up everywhere. But that doesn't mean people aren't partying anyway.

Obama is attending all 10 official balls, with appearances scheduled through 3 in the morning on Wednesday. 

So the rest of the crowds are making do -- either with quirky costumes, strange bedfellows or good, clean fun.

The Green Inaugural Ball Saturday night featured musician Wyclef Jean and a fashion show of designs made from recycled products.

Organizers said the party, held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in downtown Washington, was the first carbon neutral ball, meaning the group bought carbon credits to offset the use of fossil fuels -- particularly those used by delivery trucks and for staff commutes -- to put on the event. Five percent of ticket sales also went to environmental causes.

The decor was minimal, with candles made from undyed soy wax. All the bottles, paper and plastic were to be recycled, and the food waste was to be composted.  The final touch? Media were given a small piece of plastic instead of a press kit. Asked why, a check-in girl pointed reporters to a thumb drive. 

"Saves paper," she said.

Though unofficial, the ball did attract a crew of Hollywood celebrities, including actor Terrence Howard of "Crash" fame and "Heroes" star Hayden Panettiere. Singer-musician Jackson Browne won an award for his commitment to environmental causes. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was said to be in attendance. Spokesman Jenna Mack said in all, 800-1,000 people showed up.

The theme of the night made it easy to add color as well -- green cloths draped the tables and men wore green ties. 

New Mexico designer Nancy Judd showed her fashions as part of the Recycle Runway project, which tries to raise environmental awareness with clothing made from recycled materials

Sporting a gown made of "Obama" yard signs, she also displayed fashions made of voter registration cards and paper door hangers once distributed by the Obama campaign.

Fun for Kids

Elsewhere, other balls didn't quite have the same prestige but certainly drew appreciative crowds. The "Children's Inaugural Ball" was billed as the only family-friendly, free national event of its kind to welcome Obama and his family to the White House -- never mind that Disney was sponsoring a "Kids Inaugural: We Are the Future" concert at Verizon Center Monday evening featuring Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, as well as soon-to-be first lady Michelle Obama.

About 2,000 kids and family members turned out at the Sunday afternoon event at the Historical Society of Washington. Organizers said they had to turn away another 2,000.

"Kids are excited about the presidential turnover as they are every time," said Michael Petit, president of Every Child Matters Education Fund, which sponsored the "ball." 

"I think a lot of parents want their kids to feel a part of something. And you won't get that by going to the standard events," Petit added.

D.J. Horne agreed. 

"A lot of the inaugural events are geared to adults," he said. "This is good family time."

Horne brought his 6-year-old cousin Niyah Gatling and her mother Colleen Horne to the party, making the family's first trip to an inauguration celebration .

"I wanted to get my cousin out to experience some of the energy in the city," Horne said.

The event featured live music, magic and puppet shows, games, interactive exhibits, play areas, story-times, children's mini-classes, recorded history activities and a special history display called "Presidents Helping Children," about presidential accomplishments in improving child well-being over the past century.

Organizers said the ball was a culmination of the work of many children's organizations over the past two years to raise the visibility of children's issues and to pave the way for new national investments in their well-being.

"In the end, we want to convey the message for a strong federal role in helping children and families," Petit said, citing UNICEF figures that show the United States ranks 20th among 21 rich democracies in investing in the well-being of children.

Petit said since 2002, 30,000 children have died from child abuse, suicide or homicide in the United States, compared with about 5,000 American troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. But more attention has been paid to the troops dying, he said.

A Serious Side to Partying

Political causes were also in vogue over at the Jewish Inaugural Ball, the first of its kind, which was held at Ohev Shalom The National Synagogue, a modern Orthodox congregation. Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, a 33-year-old rainmaker who hosts his own radio show and drives around the city in a refurbished taxi with a giant menorah on top and synagogue advertising on the door panels, organized the event so that guests could show their support for Israeli soldiers as well as the president-elect.

The event, while short on celebrities, did bring together odds and ends, including North Dakota's sole Jewish legislator Elliott Glassman, Obama transition team official Jeremy Bash and Bahrain's ambassador to the U.S. Houda Nunu.

Glassman, who said once a year he gets to give the daily invocation to the state Legislature, and offers it in Hebrew, raised a toast to Obama as someone "who stands for inclusion of all people."

Many of the 150 or so guests said they hope Obama can open up a new way in Middle East relations, though Rob Goodman, a registered Democrat, said he'd prefer the U.S. abandon the two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

"I absolutely do not feel a two-state solution is of any benefit," he said, adding that he'd prefer Arabs join in as fully participating members of the Jewish state.

"Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans in the last 16 years have had adequate skill in (negotiating peace), somewhat, mostly because the Israelis, who would like to be happy to have some peace, find that the people they're shaking their hands with have a tendency to cross their fingers and welch," Goodman said.

But Goodman's companion at the event, Deborah Copeland, a Republican, said the two-state solution is the only way to go.

"I think the two-state solution is probably the only solution. I think people have an inherent right to have a place to live, and they were in that area and they need a place to live," she said.

FOXNews.com's Judson Berger, Stephen Clark and Sharon Kehnemui Liss contributed to this report.