Voice Your Choice
Inaugural ticketholders meet with disappointment
WASHINGTON -- Inauguration Day turned out to be a disappointment for at least 1,000 people who held tickets to the swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol but couldn't get in.
Ryan Ford, an intern who works in Rep. Loretta Sanchez's office, said he had been looking forward to the event for weeks, but was "extremely disappointed" when he was turned away at the gate. At 6 a.m. Tuesday, he and others showed up at the gate designated for those who had tickets to the purple section on the Capitol grounds -- a prime viewing area.
The crowd was directed into the nearby Third Street Tunnel, where people waited until 10:30 a.m., Ford said. But after no movement and no official word, Ford and other ticketholders walked out of the tunnel and made their way back to the closed gate, where people were yelling, "Let us in!"
Ford gave up and ended up watching the inauguration at his office.
"I feel completely left in the dark," he said.
Jay Mayfield, of Knoxville, Tenn., also missed the ceremony at the Capitol despite arriving in Washington at least four hours before the swearing-in ceremony.
Mayfield and others went to the location indicated on their purple tickets, but were unable to enter. He said there were no volunteers to assist them, and police would not explain what was going on.
"I was really, really looking forward to this," he said. "It's just a huge disappointment."
Lily McCall, a 22-year-old college student from Austin, Texas, ran into two barriers. She held a ticket for the swearing-in but couldn't get in after waiting for five hours. She also had a ticket to the parade route, but she couldn't find an open entryway to the route.
But McCall said she and others who crammed in the streets listened attentively as Barack Obama gave his speech, their cell phones and radios glued to their ears.
"The most important thing is listening to what he has to say and understanding the message," McCall said.
Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for U.S. Capitol Police, said in an e-mail that certain ticketholders who hadn't been screened for the swearing-in ceremony were rerouted to "prevent crowd overflow that could pose a danger to public safety."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)