Rileigh and Keelie Hanley are learning how to work a room.
The 15-year-old twins from Jupiter Farms made their way around the Florida Sunshine Ball on Wednesday night with cameras in tow, snapping photos as some of the state’s biggest political names gathered in Washington, D.C., to celebrate part-time Palm Beach resident Donald Trump’s inauguration.
They’re attending the inauguration with their parents, Scott and Laura, and earned their tickets after working on the campaigns for Trump and recently elected U.S. Rep. Brian Mast.
The girls said they decided to “pop over” to the ball with their parents after arriving in D.C., checking into their hotel and grabbing dinner at the Wok and Roll restaurant in Chinatown. (“You have to go there,” Rileigh said. “It’s where the locals eat.”)
Laura, who has been involved in Republican Party politics in Palm Beach County for years and made an unsuccessful bid to be Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections in 1996, said she spotted many of her friends at the Sunshine Ball — people who were able to help Rileigh and Keelie get inside to take some photos.
It was toward the end of the ball when they got in, and the girls said they spent some time outside the swanky Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium watching the parade of well-dressed Florida politicos: “Beautiful gowns, nice tuxes, a lot of furs,” Keelie said.
“A lot of furs and sparkles,” Rileigh added, giggling.
Once inside, the girls quickly found the star feature of the evening: red and white flowers arranged as the Florida state flag, with the state seal completing the image.
“The line was so long to take a picture with it,” Rileigh said, adding it was worth the wait. They emerged from their quick excursion into the ball with several keepsake photos, including the floral flag, and a snapshot with Peter Feaman, the Florida Republican national committeeman and a Boynton Beach resident.
The twins, who are in the International Baccalaureate program at Suncoast High School, are sending back reports, photos and videos to their classmates for their school’s newspaper, The Legend.
They supported Trump, Keelie said, because his economic policies hit home.
“I liked his policies about bringing jobs back to America and keeping them in America,” she said. “I’ll be graduating high school soon and I’ll need to find a job. And my father is a small business owner.”
Keelie said so far the experience has been “pretty cool,” and she enjoyed getting a peek inside the ball.
“I thought everyone was dressed beautifully,” she said.