The 2009 Inauguration (purple) ticket holder disaster


I’ve received a number of texts/calls/emails from friends/family across the country wondering how my (much-hyped) Inauguration experience turned out earlier today. Well, to put it bluntly – extremely disappointing.

Once feeling like the luckiest person in SF after receiving confirmation that I had in fact “won” 4 Inauguration tickets to see Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th President from Speaker Pelosi’s office, I sit here now today (@ my parent’s home in the DC ‘burbs) feeling like one of the most defeated persons in the DC metro area.


After a stroke of (seemingly continued) luck, our contingency (a mix of family and friends gathered together to adventure down to the Nation’s capital) ended up with enough tickets for everyone interested, including 2 “better” purple tickets (see Ticket Holders’ Map). We woke up @ 5am, put on our full winter gear getup, got to the Metro by 6am, and were downtown at our “designated” subway stop by 7am.  The silver ticket holders split off from my dad and I who were planning to use the even more coveted purple tickets.


5 hours (zero information and very little movement) later, we (the purple team) had not entered onto the Capitol grounds due to terrible planning and/or the lack of security’s ability to cope with the massive (but expected) crowds.  The now infamous Purple Gate (silver and blue also experienced terrible problems) staff never allowed thousands upon thousands of purple ticket holders inside due to various “issues” (see Purple, Silver, Blue Ticket Holders Turned Away).


So, in the end, after making plans to come back to DC the day after Obama’s historic election last November, securing a plane ticket and Inauguration tickets, and making our way downtown this morning without any complications, my dad and I never saw today’s historic event.  Instead, we ended up 20 yards away from the Purple Gate (that we never got a chance to pass through), in the shadow of the Capitol, with no loud-speakers or projector-screens to witness the apparently moving speech that Barack Obama delivered after being sworn-in as the 44th POTUS. There were only 2 moments that we actually experienced which signified that Obama had become President: (1) the 21-gun howitzer salute; and (2) the three minutes my dad and I spent huddling with other distraught ticket holders around an event truck’s window while the driver played the speech on the radio.


On the one hand, it was still exciting to be in the District during this historic day to celebrate the beginning of Obama’s presidency, but on the other… I cannot begin to describe my incredible disappointment with how things turned out.  It’s now over 12 hours since I awoke this morning, and almost 6 since Obama officially became POTUS, and I’ve still yet to see Obama’s historic speech on the steps of the Capitol.


In no way, shape, or form do I think today’s debacles reflect on Obama or any of the positive forward progress that I am looking forward to under his administration.  But, nonetheless, I can’t help but feel extraordinarily disappointed and defeated after all of the efforts that had been made to make today happen.


For more on this unfortunate and incredibly frustrating situation, read: