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Giving Up on Purple Tickets

FIRST AND LOUISIANA STREETS NW -- Those holding tickets for the purple section of the Capitol grounds are having a hard time getting in for the swearing-in.

Jocelyn and Herbert Thomas of Orlando, Fla. got two standing purple tickets, but the two have been in line and First and Louisiana streets for three hours.

"We give up. How many purple tickets did they issue?" Jocelyn Thomas said. "This was impossible."

D.C. documentary filmmaker Aviva Kempner, a purple ticket holder, also gave up hope at about 10:15 a.m.

"There's absolutely no way we're all getting in," she said. Her voice quavered and she broke down on the phone, "I was on this (the campaign) for a year and a half, and I'm really upset. I don't want to be in a line when they're praying and when he's being sworn in so I'm going to go try to watch it somewhere."

"Purple section = disaster," one Twitterer posted succinctly.

Lines for the other ticketed sections at the Capitol reportedly aren't moving much faster, and are several blocks long in some cases.

-- Keith Alexander and Nikita Stewart

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  January 20, 2009; 10:34 AM ET
Categories:  Inauguration  
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Comments

What does having been on the political campaign have to do with not getting to your place?

Posted by: gm123 | January 20, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Ahem. It's called entitlement, which sadly is what most Americans believe is in the Bill of Rights.

Posted by: PGirl | January 20, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

My friends came in for this and they just let me know they're turning back too even though they have tickets. She's estimating that thousands of purple ticket holders are being turned away. Sounds like there was a huge over allocation.

Posted by: ChinatownExpress | January 20, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

My mom and brother-in-law, also purple ticket-holders got in line at 5:30 a.m. They finally gave up around 10:00. They are very disappointed.

Posted by: layla2 | January 20, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"What does having been on the political campaign have to do with not getting to your place?"

She's a documentary filmmaker ... I took her comment to mean that she had been "on the story" or "working on the project" for a year and a half, and would be disappointed not to be able to see the climax.

Posted by: mccxxiii | January 20, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Is someone asleep at the switch here? Why is the idiotic comment from 12:05 still posted? It clearly violates the rules of use "User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site."

Posted by: BlueMax1 | January 20, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

We were in line since 7:15 am and finally gave up at 11:10 am. The hearded the purple line people into a line that was not really a line, and so literally thousands of people ended up in a dead end. They had ONE door at the purple section to accomodate people as they finally figured out where the gate actually was. It's highly disappointing given how excited everyone was

Posted by: seansbartlett | January 20, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

There were at least 5,000 people who had purple tickets who never got in. I stood in a freezing tunnel for six hours. There were no police, no crowd control and no direction given to those waiting. Once we arrived at the gate no one was there. There were people waiting for the gates to open and they never did.

Posted by: colleenmtyrrell | January 20, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

We were turned away at the gate, along with thousands of other purple ticket holders. Thankfully, the crowd was courteous, considering the lack of an official line for ticketholders, crowd control and few police officers. The several thousand people packed like sardines for several blocks of First Street for hours behaved so well. No one (including the few police officers) knew what was going on or why the purple gate wasn't opening. I've never seen anything like it.

Posted by: kendra3 | January 20, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

The blue line was equally as terrible. I'm curious to see what the PIC will do for people who followed the rules and advisories and still didn't get in. Unbelieveable how poorly organized this event was for the general public as it was supposed to be an inauguration "for the people."

I agree with kendra3 that for a bunch of people who were disappointed and deserved to be really angry, people behaved really well.

Posted by: bh03211983 | January 20, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

My mom, friend and I arrived in DC around 6:30am with our purple tickets expecting the gates to open at 9am. From the Judiciary Square metro stop we were directed to walk through the 3rd street tunnel around to our gate. Upon exiting the tunnel, we found the nearest event volunteer who instructed us to walk towards the gates admitting blue, silver, and orange tickets. Once we realized these instructions were incorrect we asked another volunteer who then directed us to walk back through the tunnel to the entrance closest to the Judiciary Square metro stop. Along our trek back to where we had originally come we encountered an elderly woman who also claimed to have been misdirected, walking through the tunnel and back again to reach the purple gate. By the time we made it to our destination my cell phone read 9am. I never actually saw the purple gate but stood in a jam packed line of people waiting to be admitted to the purple entrance. Unfortunately for my mom, friend and I, as well as all the other purple ticket holders waiting in line, around 10am a uniformed gentleman announced that the purple area had reached full capacity and no one else would be admitted, including those with tickets. He grudgingly told us we were welcome to try other gates to check whether they had reached maximum capacity and if they would allow us in. We attempted to wait in a line at another gate but found it to be backed up full of people as well. Slowly we began to realize if we wanted hear the and see the ceremony we would have to find a TV. Being from the Silver Spring area we hightailed it home and luckily made it just in time to watch the ceremony. The ticket debacle did not take away from my excitement but left me feeling disappointed that we were unable to experience the event live. Had we not received the tickets my expectations would not have been built up only to be let down. Despite the disappointment, I am grateful for this day to have finally come!

Posted by: ams13 | January 20, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

We were extremely disappointed and frankly very angry by the utter lack of organization and communication at the ticketed area by the capitol. We never made it into the ticketed area despite 5 hours of waiting in the cold. We were a group of 4 with purple standing tickets and arrived at 7am from the Judiciary Square Metro. In the five hours we stood in "line"....and clearly there never really was a line....no one was able to give us information about where to wait, what to do, why the "line" wasn't moving, and why there was utter chaos is the area.

If the inaugural committee realized that they overprinted tickets to the purple section, they should have set up jumbo trons and had speakers to at least let us listen to the proceedings or have informed us ahead of time so that we could have at least taken our chances getting a spot on the Mall.

I want an explanation for the chaos, lack of organization and extreme incompetency in communication. All those ticket holders who did not get into the inauguration deserve an apology.

Posted by: mandy_krauthamer | January 20, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I can echo all of these purple people experiences. I was there at 7:45 and followed the directions given by the police but bailed out at 11:15 to rush home on the red line. Somehow those of us who got into the "line" got jammed into a corner of gated area and basically never got out. The organization was horrendous and disappointing. In addition, it seems that many of the purple ticket holders who did get in either cut the line or pushed their way through...
Luckily I made it home to watch the address on TV - and was inspired. But I remain very disappointed.

Posted by: dcisme | January 20, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

No one is "entitled" to a ticket, however, if a ticket is promised, and someone is told that in order to recieve the ticket they must pick up the ticket at their congressperson's office on Monay Jan. 19, and that person travels many miles, pays alot of money for a hotel room, and arrives at the designated gate when advised, and does this all in reliance on said promise, and there were no unforseen circumstances, then I believe the PIC owes a duty to the ticketholders to let them in to the event. If the PIC fails to do so because they gave away many more tickets than there were places available, or they had inadequate staff to handle the number of people to whom they gave tickets, then I believe they may be in breach of contract with the ticketholders. I know the tickets were free, but there was detrimental reliance. I also know the tickets had a disclaimer, but in my opinion
the PIC was well aware they could not accommodate the number of ticketholders to whom they gave tickets, and their actions were unconscionable.

I think Obama or the PIC should do something to make it up to the people with tickets who didn't get in (and still have their unused ticket), despite the fact that they complied with all directions.

I was a blue ticket holder who arrived early and didn't get in. I do not fault Obama, but I do fault the organizers.

Posted by: frosty28 | January 20, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

We were chased by the FBI!

I was a silver ticket holder. The trip was confusing this morning. Starting at a metro station that was full to capacity (which Jessica and I opted out of) and ending with a one hour walk home.

I have no idea why the silver line was stopped. All i know, is i was in a VERY VERY long line. At one point we noticed people walking away from the silver gate entrance. I decided to climb up a sign to see what was happening ahead... only to realize the line ceased to exist 50 yards in front of us. So Jessica and i squeezing our way to a plastic green fence.

This precariouse fence was the only thing that kept us from the silver section, that kept us from speakers to here the event, and the opertunity to glance, tippy toed, at our new president.

We followed the flimsy green fence, till we found a downed section. The people, hungry to be a part of history, look on ravenously at the opening. No one moved beyond it, however.

I made a move, and took one step into the "Silver" side, and broke from the mass. What followed was the crowds' "ooo." The only remark for my bending of the rules. It was the "ooo" siblings use when a brother or sister commit some minor infraction in front of Mom.

After that step, i looked back at Jessica and asked her, "do you wana make a run for it?"

With Texan fire in her eyes she said, "Do it!"

So we started our jog with a crowd cheering us on...

THEN a man dressed in a mix of police uniform and camo started running along side us, ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE. "Ms you CANNOT be in there. That is not the rout to get in. MAM, you muss not proceed any further." He grabbed Jessica's sleeve, as she yelled, "I have a ticket, i have a silver ticket!"

She pulled away and we picked up the pace. It was hard to keep ourselves from skipping. We wanted to be leeping for joy, we wanted to dance. But for the moment, we needed to run.

We started pulling of layers of hats and scarves, to change our appearance, and ducked into the crowd in an attempt to disappear. It worked. And somehow, despite the odds, it seemed, we were there.

Posted by: beckyrey | January 20, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I was stuck in the purple line for hours, and because of the crowds, I wasn't able to leave once I realized I wasn't going to get in. Somehow I got separated from my friends and they got in, but I couldn't hear or see anything.

I don't understand how there could be two soldiers per block this morning in Dupont Circle but NOBODY outside the purple gate to help control the crowds.

This was so much worse than not having tickets at all. Such a disappointment-- I really wanted to be able to watch this moment live, even if it was just on tv at home.

Posted by: Laura18 | January 20, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

The "bigger picture" is a sorry excuse for what happened to a lot of
campaign workers and just plain old good folks that spent money, took off work, and brought small children to witness history. Not getting in is one thing and a fact of life sometimes, but the impudence of no explanation, police help, safety standards or even announcements does not bode well. It was a scary place to be today, and not for the usual reasons. Good-bye D.C. Good luck.

Posted by: pieface47 | January 20, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

This is true- there were so many National Guard men and women stationed in Dupont Circle.
Perhaps the event organizers snd crowd control organizers have slipped through the cracks of the No Child Left Behind Act and cant read or follow directions! AMEN to the NCLB too! Obama, we are counting on you!

Posted by: sodisappointed | January 20, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

My friend Janet and I cannot BEGIN to express our outrage, sadness and great disappointment about the way were treated at the inauguration. We were (still are) Purple ticket holders. We arrived at our designated gate at 5:30 AM, and were herded into the 3rd street tunnel. We stayed in that GAS CHAMBER for four hours, before we realized that we were NEVER getting into the inauguration. I almost got hypothermia because my toes were totally numb from the below freezing temperatures. When we finally wised up, left the tunnel and got over to the gate, there was total chaos. There was no police help, nor were there any officials available who knew what was going on, nor did they seem to care. I am going to write to my Congressman who gave me the tickets, as well as send a letter to every person on Capitol Hill whose e-mail address I can find to let them know how we feel. At the very least, I feel that we are owed a DVD copy of the Inaguguration since we missed the ENTIRE event (as we were still waiting in line to be allowed into the ceremony) as well as a signed apology from the powers that be!!!. WE COULD HAVE DIED IN THAT TUNNEL (Gas Chamber) and no one would have known until it was too late!!

Posted by: edugator2001 | January 22, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

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