A thousand miles from where Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States Friday afternoon, Miamians kept the party going.
From Cuban restaurants on Coral Way to penthouse apartments in Miami Beach to backyards in Kendall, South Floridians broke out the champagne and “Make America Great Again” cakes to honor the New York real estate magnate’s election.
A bout of pneumonia prevented Louise Sunshine, CEO of the real estate development company Sunshine Select Worldwide, from making it to Washington, D.C., so she watched with close friends at home.
As news cameras panned across the crowd shivering and sniffling in the below-50 degree weather, warm sunlight poured into Sunshine’s penthouse apartment. A crowd of bankers, real estate developers and art dealers — Sunshine called them “doers” — clustered around the couch, eyes glued to CNN’s coverage of the inauguration.
Sunshine pointed out various Trump family members onscreen: “Melania looks like Jackie Kennedy; Ivanka Trump walks on water; Donald is relentless.”
When Trump spoke the last word of the oath, everyone in the room raised a glass.
“It’s unbelievable,” Sunshine said. “It’s like my whole life playing out in front of me.”
Sunshine, 76, served as vice president of the Trump Organization for more than a decade. She worked with Trump for 16 years and “learned everything from him.”
“He rode into this world on my political credibility and business credibility,” she said.
On the floor of her six-bedroom, six-bathroom Venetian Island condominium — one that she shares with her two dogs, Beni and Patch — Sunshine keeps photos of herself and Trump and her copy of the book “Trump: The Art of The Deal” inscribed in April 1992.
“You are a truly special friend. There is no one more proud than me at your great success — but remember, you had a good teacher. Keep working hard and make your dreams come true,” Trump wrote.
Downstairs, catering staff offered up platters of mini lobster quiches as the guests discussed the next four years. Sunshine called Trump the most strategic and driven man she knows.
“There’s a method to his madness. There’s a method to his twitters,” Sunshine said.
Iran Issa-Khan, a renowned photographer, said she was too unsure of her choices to cast a ballot this year. But now, she said, she has tremendous confidence in President Trump’s ability.
“His ego is so big he’s going to make sure he’s the best president ever,” she joked.
Sunshine laughed and nodded at her friend. “You’ve got that right,” she said.
Across town, Martie Mees raised her arms in the air and screamed as she watched Trump become president from a TV in the Las Vegas Cuban Restaurant on Coral Way.
“Mr. Trump, President Trump — oh, I can’t believe it — President Trump is so on fire for this country,” said the Realtor.
She appreciates Trump’s down-to-earth speaking style, how he abstains from alcohol and instills his values in his children. She said she thinks the next four (or eight) years will be some of the happiest in her life.
“We have Camelot back,” she said. “Class has come back to our country.”
Juan Porras, the 19-year-old president of Florida International University’s College Republicans, leaned against the restaurant bar and watched the inauguration aftermath on Fox News as rowdy Trump volunteers laughed, drank beer and posed for photos behind him.
“It’s Miami,” he said. “So the Cuban crowd gets a little riled up.”
Hours after Sunshine’s champagne glasses had been washed and red, white and blue star-shaped balloons at the Las Vegas Cuban Restaurant had been popped, the celebration continued in Kendall.
The centerpiece of Annie Ruiz’s Friday night event (a combination inauguration celebration and 50th birthday party for her husband and friend) was a bright red, baseball cap-shaped cake. It read, obviously, “Make America Great Again.”
The whole home was swathed in American flags and Trump/Pence yard signs, she said, and a live stream of the inaugural ball was projected onto a screen. For fun, guests could pose at the photo booth with a giant cardboard cutout of Trump with a hole where the face goes or various signs with his signature sayings: “You’re Fired!” “MAGA” and “Yuge.”
Ruiz, 47, said party planning was a little difficult, because even after the election she was nervous to admit she was a Trump supporter when people asked her theme.
“You turn on the TV and it’s all protests,” she said. “But sometimes people will say, ‘Oh, that’s a great theme. We’re big Trump supporters.’ ”
She expected a crowd of about 60 people, all Trump supporters. The couple invited Hillary Clinton-supporting friends, she said, but “they’re not coming.”