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President's great uncle celebrates inauguration

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:30:52 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 21 2013 11:28:18 PM CST

Local leaders held a gala to celebrate President Obama's inauguration, as well as MLK Day.  A relative of President Obama was among hundreds in attendance for the New Bern Presidential Inaugural Gala.

Nearly 300 people filled the ballroom at The Flame restaurant on Neuse Blvd, for the New Bern version of the Presidential Inaugural Ball. The gala was sponsored by the Save The Seed Foundation.

Thelma Chadwick attended the President’s first inauguration in 2008. She said that day was one she would never forget, and neither would she forget Monday's celebration.

“For us to pay tribute to someone that's so important made it back in again and made history on a day that was a very special day, I think it's wonderful,” said Chadwick.

President Obama's great uncle, Jon Payne, also attended the New Bern gala as a special guest. Payne retired in River Bend.

“Four years later, it’s still almost unbelievable feeling of awe,” said Payne. “I’d say it's very humbling to be just a tiny bit of such incredible history.”

Payne, who still believed his link to the White House was unreal, said he worried a lot about his great nephew's safety, and hoped that in the coming years, the President would remain thoughtful in all of his decisions.

“I think he's done as well given the circumstances," Payne said. "It hasn’t been a smooth road. I don't think it's going to get any smoother. Like I said, he needs to be patient and [I] hope for the best."

People at the gala enjoyed impersonations, musical tributes and a birthday cake with the number 50 sitting on top to honor the late Dr. King. All of the night's proceeds would benefit youth events for the Area Day Reporting Center.