WASHINGTON,Jan. 20 – Lucky Michigan residents with tickets to the inauguration traveled to Washington and joined the nearly 2 million people at and near the Capitol on Tuesday.
Jacquelynn Moffewtt,59,of Detroit,said Obama's inauguration was the first she ever attended.
“Because it's history and I wanted to be able to tell my great-grandchildren that I was there,” Moffewtt said.
Moffewtt,who is staying at a hotel in Rockville,Md.,found the trip to D.C. more complicated than she expected. “I drove. Got lost. Ended up in Erie,Pa.,in a snowstorm. So an eight-hour drive ended up a 13-hour drive,but we persevered,” she said.
Michigan state Sen. Martha G. Scott,a Detroit Democrat,also attended the event. “It's history,history,history,you know. There's those of us,and I'm one of them,that never thought it would happen in my lifetime,” Scott said.
Gerald Chase,63,of Charlevoix,Mich.,director of the Health Department of Northwest Michigan,picked up his tickets Monday and attended the inauguration with his family.
“We attended the '96 one for Clinton,and why we are doing this twice in our life,is this guy right here. He's 5 years old,he's our grandson and he's going to remember this,” Chase said as he pointed to his grandson,Taylor Chase.
Asked what he thought of Washington,Taylor said it's “great” and that his favorite part of Washington was the Capitol.
Chase,who had tickets for the purple standing area on the Capitol grounds area,said he and his family arrived at the Capitol at about 7:30 a.m. and stood in line,in the cold,for about three hours.
“I thought it was great. The spirit of the crowd was so positive. I've never run across so many positive people in my life,” he said.
Pablo Mahave,39,of Grand Rapids and a professor at Grand Valley State University,said he was happy to attend an inauguration that was “different from all the others.”
“I've only been voting since 2001,when I became a citizen,so this is the first guy I've voted for who's won,” Mahave said Monday after picking up his ticket from the office of Sen. Carl Levin,D-Mich.
Crowds filled the streets of Washington Tuesday morning as hundreds of thousands of people gathered to see Obama's inauguration.
Streets were blocked,and Metro stations were overcrowded,so for most people,including me and my co-workers,walking in the cold was the only way to get to the National Mall.
Because Metro was expected to be very crowded Tuesday morning and the walk to the Capitol from our apartment is more than 4 miles,my fellow reporters and I,along with many others in the city,slept at our office Monday night.
Our office on Vermont Avenue,is about 2 ½ miles from the Capitol and a little more than a mile from the Washington Monument,where I spent most of the day.
We laid out our sleeping bags and slept under our desks,then walked from the office the following morning wearing as many layers of clothing as we could and carrying our cameras,food,notepads and pencils,which work better than pens in the cold.
As more people attempted to move closer to the Jumbotrons positioned throughout the National Mall,the area became so congested that at times it was impossible to move. In an attempt to walk through the crowd and talk to people,I found myself completely stuck. People were so tightly squeezed together that at one point I couldn't even move my arms. To gain a better view and avoid being crushed,some people positioned themselves on top of portable toilets.
People could be heard calling out for friends and family members who were separated from their groups,and others held closely to children. Some brought their dogs.
Even those with tickets had difficulties.
A couple from Hanover,Pa.,said they had tickets for the silver area,between the Reflecting Pool and 4th Street at the base of Capitol Hill,but they weren't able to use them because the line to get through security was at least 15 blocks long.
Several Metro stations closed temporarily because of crowding at street level,and museums on the Mall had to turn people away despite the frigid temperatures.
Even though they were cold,crowded and standing far from the Capitol,most people said they were happy to be a part of the historic events.
“To me,it's about the atmosphere and everyone being together,” said Jamison Young,27,of Sicklerville,N.J.,who watched Obama's swearing-in ceremony on a Jumbotron near the World War II Memorial with his son,Julian Young,8.