NEW ORLEANS – Mayor Ray Nagin's inauguration day began with an interfaith service at St. Louis Cathedral, a landmark in a city still staggering from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.
The inauguration for his second term, won May 20 in a runoff against Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, also was the first day of the new hurricane season.
Nagin attended the Thursday morning service — which included prayers from various religious leaders and a rousing sermon by a priest — with his wife, Seletha, and his two sons and daughter.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco, with whom Nagin has sometimes had a rocky relationship since the storm, also spoke at the service.
"On this day of new beginnings, we'll come together at all levels of government," she said. "We are determined to rebuild this beloved city with its soul intact."
The 49-year-old self-styled maverick won his second term in an election dominated by discussions of Hurricane Katrina, which continues to affect nearly every aspect of life here nine months after the storm.
Nagin, whose term began Wednesday, was to take the oath on Thursday afternoon at the Convention Center, a site where thousands took refuge without food or water in increasingly squalid conditions after the Aug. 29 storm blew ashore and flooding began.
Nagin could have taken the oath Wednesday, after the mandated period for contesting the outcome passed, but was not required to, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
The seven members of the City Council were also being sworn in on Thursday.
Thursday's events also included a second-line parade, a New Orleans tradition in which bystanders join musicians marching down the street waving umbrellas and handkerchiefs.
Inauguration speakers were expected to include Donald Powell, President Bush's adviser on Gulf Coast recovery; U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, the older sister of Nagin's opponent; U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, whose district includes New Orleans; and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a civil rights activist who protested the timing and procedures of the election before Nagin's win.