Cheers and the patter of gloved hands clapping rang out from Kevin Gallatin's St. Paul backyard moments after Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging, it wasn't safe to gather inside and watch the festivities, so he rolled his television out on his patio on Wednesday to stream the events live, inviting neighbors and friends over to watch with mimosas, Bloody Marys, coffee and hot porridge.

In some ways, the struggle to gather and celebrate Inauguration Day was indicative of the challenges ahead. "I feel relief that we have a new administration in office," said Nate Hood, who attended the gathering.

He says Biden will take the current crises seriously. "I'm referring to COVID and also really the state of our demo­cracy."

After four years with Republican President Donald Trump at the helm, Minnesota Democrats found ways to celebrate as Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office.

They held Zoom watch parties and bundled up to brave the January chill and gather with friends and family in their yards or on their city blocks, using fire pits to stay warm.

Many popped champagne bottles and made inauguration-themed drinks, treats and dinner menus to celebrate in their homes.

Typically hundreds of thousands of people would gather in Washington, D.C., for the event.

Instead, about 200,000 flags were placed in the National Mall to represent people who couldn't attend the inauguration, as officials warned people to stay away from the area amid the pandemic and heightened security following the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Four years ago, Anita Smithson bought plane tickets anticipating she would see Hillary Clinton sworn in. The Bloomington Democrat's Inauguration Day dreams were dashed again this year.

But the mom of three had a backup plan: She recorded highlights so her family could spend the evening watching them and — at her kids' behest — eating ice cream, Biden's favorite treat. "They said this is what Joe Biden would have wanted us to do, and I'm a sucker for that," Smithson said.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and her daughter, Siobhan, ate ice cream "right out of the container" as Biden gave his inaugural address. It was a dual celebration, as Siobhan turned 8 years old while America swore in its first woman — and first woman of color — to serve as vice president.

Flanagan, the first Native American elected to statewide office in Minnesota, said she understands the pressure of being a first, as well as second in command in a trying time for the state and nation.

While she knows all eyes will be on Harris in her new role, Flanagan is hopeful to see an administration that is more reflective of her family and America.

"After four years of trying to be a good mom, and to make sure that [Siobhan] feels like she is safe ... while trying to battle the messages that were coming from Trump and from the television, and coming to the place where she can see herself reflected in Kamala Harris, it feels like a new day," said Flanagan. "I woke up feeling hopeful and relieved and a little like a kid on Christmas morning."

In Minneapolis, Pamela Weems donned a strand of pearls Wednesday that her aunt wore in the 1950s, joining women across the country who are imitating Harris' signature look.

"Pearls are forever-lasting. They come from the sand to that oyster, and that pearl drop, it means growth," she said, adding Harris' position reflects "how we have grown from the '40s, '50s to 2021."

More than a thousand people joined a Facebook page Weems set up a few weeks ago for the Minnesota chapter of "Wear Pearls On Inauguration Day," and selfies with pearls were pouring in.

Some of those women gathered for a socially distanced celebration Wednesday evening at the Gold Room restaurant in Minneapolis.

Weems created the Minnesota chapter to try to bring women together. She said she hoped the energy and excitement she saw on the Facebook page Wednesday could translate to something bigger. "We are still healing from the George Floyd incident, and there's so much work to be done here," she said.

Hopkins resident Ellie Kretz's celebration was a little less formal than pearls.

As soon as she knew Trump had "left the building," she donned a bikini and a bright orange peach costume and ran down her street.

Her outfit was a G-rated version of the original bet she placed with her husband around the Georgia elections. She told him then that if Democrats took control of the Senate, she would run naked through the streets.

"It will be sort of an homage to the Georgia voters for delivering the Senate, as well as a celebration for being done with Trump and celebrating Biden and Harris being sworn in," Kretz said.

Annie Klodd baked two dozen Democratic sugar cookies, cutting out each with her donkey-shaped cookie cutter, and dropped them off with friends around Eden Prairie. It was a far cry from how she spent the 2017 inauguration.

That year, Klodd said she went to a restaurant with her husband and a friend. They watched Trump take office and cried, she said. "There's a feeling of relief this time around," said Klodd.

After months of nonstop work on voting-access issues on Biden's campaign in Minnesota, Robert Haider would have preferred to be in D.C. celebrating with his former campaign colleagues. But the date holds another significance for him — it's his 39th birthday.

He and his partner put on their new gray Biden-Harris 1/20/21 sweatshirts, picked up a nice bottle of wine and some takeout in Minneapolis and celebrated both occasions. Haider said he is deliberate about feeling optimistic about the future.

"It's really easy right now to be cynical, just about politics in general, and depending on who you follow on Twitter, being earnest and hopeful is easy to mock," said Haider. "As we're all going through this it's important to take care of ourselves, and part of that is being hopeful and looking forward to something."

Jessie Van Berkel • 651-925-5044

Briana Bierschbach • 651-925-5042