For ambitious politicians from all over the United States and Latin America, Antonio Villaraigosa's inauguration as Los Angeles mayor Friday is shaping up as the place to be seen.
Former Vice President Al Gore is expected. So are California's Republican governor and four ex-governors. Mayors of some of the nation's largest cities plan to come. And so do the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Carlos de Icaza, and a handful of prominent Mexican politicians.
With his resounding win and historic victory as the first Latino mayor in modern times, Villaraigosa instantly became a star in the Democratic Party and a sought-after endorsement.
The inauguration may even be a campaign stop for New York City's mayoral race, as both the incumbent, Michael Bloomberg, and his top opponent, Fernando Ferrer, plan to fly out.
"It's the Latino vote in the upcoming mayoral election," said Fred Siegel, author of "The Prince of the City," about New York City's last mayor, Rudolph Giuliani.
"The symbolism here is important," he said, explaining that Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president, is casting himself as "an East Coast Villaraigosa" and that Bloomberg, a wealthy businessman, "is obviously going to try and counter it."
Should those two high-profile politicians find that Villaraigosa is too busy being sworn in to schmooze with them, there will be plenty of other political luminaries to hobnob with.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Los Angeles resident, has RSVP'd, as have former governors George Deukmejian, Jerry Brown, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis.
Joining them will be three governors of Mexican states: Lazaro Cardenas Batel of Michoacan, Francisco Ramirez Acuna of Jalisco and Eugenio Elorduy Walther of Baja California, according to Mexican government officials.
Several officials from El Salvador also plan to attend, including Mayor Carlos Rivas Zamora from San Salvador, the nation's capital, and members of the national congress.
From San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom and former mayor Willie Brown intend to come down, along with the current city attorney and district attorney.
Also on the guest list are Shirley Franklin, the mayor of Atlanta, and Anthony Williams, the mayor of Washington, D.C.
Enough politicians are coming from Sacramento to charter an airplane. Among them: Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, Treasurer Phil Angelides and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata.
Villaraigosa's transition team spokeswoman Elena Stern noted that these guests are just "a partial list, expected to grow."
No parade of political stars showed up for Mayor James K. Hahn when he was sworn in. But political analysts said they would have been surprised if the list weren't lengthy for the city's 41st mayor, the first Latino to run the city since 1872.
Villaraigosa is "very hot right now," said political strategist Darry Sragow. "His election comes at a time when politicians all over this country and certainly in Mexico as well have been coming to grips with ... the rise of Latino voters."
On top of that, Sragow said, there is "the Hollywood factor."
"He is interesting, and L.A. is interesting," Sragow said. "You can make your hometown paper by being here, both in Mexico and the United States."
Villaraigosa will take the oath of office at 10 a.m. Friday in a public event on the south steps of City Hall, followed by an 11 a.m. reception that is open to the public.
"I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a great day, a great celebration for Los Angeles, and then the real work begins, and I'm ready for that as well," Villaraigosa told reporters this week.
The festivities begin Thursday night with a black-tie dinner at the Music Center to raise money for the L.A.'s Best after-school program.
Friday's events will start at 8 a.m., with an interfaith service at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels presided over by Cardinal Roger Mahony.
"That's always a good way to start the day," Villaraigosa said, "with a prayer and reflection on just how daunting the task is ahead."
After the service, Villaraigosa and his wife, Corina, will lead a procession down Temple Street to City Hall for the inauguration and Villaraigosa's first speech as mayor.
Villaraigosa said he is eager to begin his four-year term, telling reporters this week that he has prepared a 100-day plan to begin carrying out the agenda he laid out during the campaign.
"I'm ready. I'm very much ready," Villaraigosa said. "I feel like I have been preparing for this for some time, and I'm ready to do the work."
The 100-day plan will outline steps he plans to take to expand the police force and mass transit in the city, as well as cut government waste and inefficiency and restore public faith in a City Hall that has been under a cloud of federal and county investigations for more than a year.
The mayor-elect also warned that there would be some bumps in the road and said he hoped the public would be patient.
"From time to time, you will see a mayor who will make mistakes, who will fail," Villaraigosa said.
"But you will also see someone who will get right back up again the next day, the same day, and tackle those problems and those issues."
Times staff writer Daniel Hernandez contributed to this report.