- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2009


I waited six hours with my parents and my younger sister to see President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in the inauguration parade. We arrived at the security gate at 7 a.m., trying to get a place to watch the parade. My family tried six different checkpoints — on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue — and we could not get through security.

My dad said he paid to sit in bleacher seats of a nonprofit organization. At about 10 a.m., the Secret Service told my dad the parade route had filled to capacity. However, we heard several stories that included one where a checkpoint had been overrun by an angry crowd and that the Secret Service completely cut off all checkpoints after that incident.

Not giving in and hopeful we would see the president, we tried again at a checkpoint near the Treasury Department building, and they were letting people in with blue tickets (my dad had blue tickets). Finally, when we got to the bag-check area, one volunteer said that our particular blue tickets were not accepted at that location, and we had to go back to 13th Street and Freedom Square.

When we arrived at the 13th Street checkpoint, my dad tried to make the argument that the other checkpoints were closed, but the Secret Service would not let us through the security gate.

We left the parade checkpoint at 13th and Freedom Square around 2:20 p.m. Another issue was that I had to use the bathroom and we didn’t have any access to the portable bathrooms because they were inside the security perimeter. Also, all the restaurants we checked after 10 a.m. closed their bathrooms, claiming they were “out of order,” yet they were willing to sell you food and merchandise.

While Tuesday was a great day in our history, my family endured frustration and sorrow. We were so close.



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