Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolinians seeking tickets to President-elect Obama's inauguration have been ringing the phones nonstop at the state Democratic Party headquarters and at the offices of U.S. representatives and senators.
"It's been unbelievable, not like anything we've ever seen," said Pam Kohl, in Congressman Brad Miller's office. "We've had hundreds of calls just in the Raleigh office, but we've also been getting calls in Greensboro and the D.C. office, as well."
"I had somebody grab me the other day and me a note," Rep. Bob Etheridge said."(It said), 'I'd like to have a ticket. I said I'll put it with the rest of them."
The interest in Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration has been so intense that Republican Sen. Richard Burr's office has also been flooded with calls.
"I think there's a lot of interest in this state, and I think part of it is for the first time since '76 we've been a blue state," Etheridge said. "They're proud of being a part of turning it that way."
Each U.S. representative and senator, along with the Obama-Biden campaign, will receive a set number of tickets. But it will be December before they find out how many tickets they'll get and to whom they can hand them out.
Since the inauguration is not a Democratic Party event, the state party will not likely receive an allotment of hotel rooms or tickets.
Those 240,000 tickets will allow closer access to the ceremony on the Mall in front of the Capitol. Members of the public without tickets can attend but might end up as far as a mile away.
Some free VIP tickets will also provide seating.
Most hotels require a four-night minimum stay, with rates ranging from $400-$700 per night for rooms close to the city, according to state party officials.
The Obama Inaugural Committee was expected to send invitations to buy tickets to the official inaugurals balls to their list of volunteers and donors. Tickets usually sell out quickly.
The official balls are held at various locations around the city (those buying tickets are assigned to a ball) and are very crowded.
To request tickets, call Etheridge's offices at 919-829-9122, 1-888-262-6202, 910-814-0335 or 1-888-384-3743; Miller's offices at 919-836-1313 or 336-574-2909; Rep. David Price's offices at 919-688-3004, 919-859-5999 or 919-967-7924; or Burr's offices 336-631-5125 or 1-800-685-8916.