Local Politics

Crowds clamor for coveted inauguration tickets

Posted January 19, 2009 6:49 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— The halls of the U.S. Senate were packed Monday with people desperate to score the hottest tickets in town – admission to Tuesday's presidential inauguration.

Gary Bussey of Raleigh heard that Sen. Kay Hagen's office might have a few extra, so he traveled from Raleigh, was lucky and got one.

"I'm extremely excited. It"s one of the experiences of a lifetime, a historical event," Bussey said. "Being that (Monday) is Martin Luther King Day, there's no better way to share this weekend, this whole experience."

A quartet of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill students wasn't as fortunate.

"It's a little disappointing that we didn't get tickets, but it's amazing that we're here to experience something this monumental. I'm excited either way, ticket or no ticket," student Matt Stevens said.

Like Stevens, most of the people seeking tickets were happy they made the effort to go to Washington for the inauguration.

"They put their lives on hold so they could come up here and be a part of this historic moment," Hagan said. "Granted, they want to get as close as they can, but even if they can't with one of the standing tickets, they're going to be someplace where hopefully they can witness it on a Jumbotron or have their cell phone on a station where they can hear it."

After getting shut out in Hagan's ticket line, Haynes Bunn, an Enloe High School graduate who is studying political science at George Washington University, scrambled over to the office of a New Mexico senator with her roommate and was able to secure tickets.

Richard Lee, who spent part of his afternoon in the hall outside Hagan's office hoping to get a ticket, said he cut his teeth on the civil rights movement. While Monday's celebration of King was special, the Mount Gilead resident said seeing King's dream become a reality Tuesday with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African-American president would be fantastic.

"To have been a part of that dream and to actually see it come true, I think, is one of the most important things in my life. I wouldn't miss it for the world, (even) just being in the area," Lee said.