Not since the Beatles played Candlestick Park in 1966 has a ticket been so sought after as the golden ticket to the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009. More than four million people are expected to fill the Washington Mall -- a crowd three to four times larger than any other event in the Mall's history.
In fact, a ticket just to catch a glimpse of Obama riding by in his motorcade or to hear his voice over a loud speaker is so sought after that Sen. Dianne Feinstein is even trying to get a measure passed in Congress that would make it illegal to scalp the tickets. Well, there goes my chance to get ahead in this weak economy! Indeed, I am one of a select few who will be getting two tickets to the big show.
I actually got these on a fluke. The congressman's office said they got an email from me asking when tickets would be available but I honestly do not remember writing one.
I could of as part of my job as an editor for NBC Bay Area, where I did a story on when tickets would be available. Or I might have to thank a friend of mine, who said he sent an email on my behalf.
Regardless I did not have to stand in long lines or promise my first born to a troll who can turn hay into gold. I just asked, sort of, and I received. You could say that I am living proof that despite all its inadequacies, Congress can indeed work for the people sometimes.
Just a month or so after sending my e-mail, I received a nice phone message from one Teresa Frison, the press secretary to Congressman Jerry McNerney, saying they had two tickets to the inauguration with my name written on them. I was informed that my name was randomly chosen from a list of thousands of local constituents who had requested tickets from him. And Congressman McNerney was not the only one issuing tickets this week. On Tuesday Representative George Miller, a Democrat from Martinez, announced the selection of two randomly chosen people from his district. He too used a lottery to pick the winners.
All in all, there are about a million tickets being issued to attend the swearing in. The tickets are non-transferable, and non eBay-able, since the online auction company agreed to ban anyone who tries to scalp them. But all is not lost if you can’t get your own tickets. Those who are not among the chosen few can still attend the swearing in by camping out on a specially designated corner of the lawn.
"A large section of the National Mall, which is expected to host more than 1 million people, will be opened to the public on Inauguration Day," Frison said. "Standing room only spaces will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. It is likely that the City of Washington, D.C. and the National Park Service will also set-up large viewing screens on the National Mall to maximize the number of people who can watch the proceedings."
There are of course conditions to my tickets. I had to confirm that I wanted them and provide all my contact information, including where I will be staying in Washington, D.C. and a way to get a hold of me while I am there. I also must pick up the tickets in person from the congressman's office in Washington, D.C., using a government issued identification card, on either Friday Jan. 16 or Monday Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration.
So, for the second time in my life I have won a contest. The first time I won $2 by finding the winning cap on a Coke bottle. While the cap may have been worth more monetarily, a chance to witness history is priceless. At least until I get my MasterCard bill for my airline tickets and hotel room.