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Ticket Pickup Begins at Convention Center, Then Bogs Down and Is Postponed

The line to pickup tickets at the Convention Center today.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee and Ticketmaster began hand-issuing inauguration, parade and ball tickets at the Washington Convention Center, at 801 Mount Vernon Place NW, this morning. While Inauguration Watch has received reports of people still receiving tickets in the mail as of today, officials from the PIC said people must pick them up at the Convention Center.

The pickup area will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Monday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. ,a PIC official said. If you ordered tickets from Ticketmaster, or got tickets by donating on the PIC Web site, you can come pick up tickets.

Today's distribution got off to a bit of a slow start, according to several people in line who said they waited about three hours. Part of the problem, several people said, was that the PIC computers malfuntioned for about an hour.

Maria Murphy, an attorney from Maryland, was there to pick up tickets for a friend, but was sent from one Ticketmaster line to the PIC line, then back again. She had been in line for almost three hours. "These are billable hours I'm missing," she said. Eventually, she was able to get the tickets.

But most people were in good spirits despite the wait. Kimberly Bassett, a Verizon executive from Washington, said she got to the Convention Center a little before 10 a.m. By 12:15 p.m, she was still in line. "It's fun," she said cheerfullly. "Everybody's excited." Then she gave a hug to a man she had met in line who had just arrived from Pennsylvania on the train.

Rob Doherty a public relations executive from Potomac, was standing behind Bassett. He was holding copies of the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

"It's like a Seinfeld episode, where people were sent from one office to another. This is one line to another," he said with a chuckle. "But everyone's in a great mood."

Those with questions about ticket-pickup can call the Presidential Inaugural Committee at 202-651-2009.

Update 3:50 p.m.: Moments after posting this item, Inauguration Watch is just now getting some breaking news that the ticketing process appears to have been postponed for the rest of the day. The PIC has sent an email to ticket holders that says: "Due to overwhelming ticket demand and a printing problem, today's scheduled ticket pick-up at the Washington Convention Center has been postponed. Please note that this affects ticket pick-up for today, Friday, January 16th, only."

The email goes on to say:

If you were planning to pick up your ball tickets today, please do NOT come today. We recommend that you come on Monday instead. We apologize to anyone who has already come to the Convention center and experienced service delays. If you need further action to fulfill your ticketing requests, please return on Monday.
Once again, this affects today only; we will follow the original schedule on Saturday and Sunday. For last names beginning with:
A through H -- Saturday*/Sunday, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. I through P -- Saturday*/Sunday, 12:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Q through Z -- Saturday*/Sunday, 2:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
*On Saturday the will call box office will remain open for all groups until 8:00 p.m. We will troubleshoot and have a final day of ticket pick-up on Monday, January 19th.
If you would like someone other than yourself to pick up these tickets or if you have further questions about the pick-up process, please email inauguralballs@pic2009.org.

By David A Nakamura  |  January 16, 2009; 3:40 PM ET  | Category:  Parade , Swearing-in Ceremony , The Balls , Tickets
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Wow, I got sooo lucky. I picked up my tickets in under five minutes at around 1:30 today. I was in the ticketmaster line.

Posted by: hoos3014 | January 16, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

WHAT?? I am totally confused. Come back Monday OR Saturday or Sunday? For pete's sake... why is this so disorganized??

Posted by: JennX_ | January 16, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

There appear to be a number of folks that bought tickets, yet have not been notified of how/where to pick them up. Many of them are waiting for them to arrive in the mail.

Posted by: adamlord68 | January 16, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I was out and hadn't received the email about postponing the ticket distribution. I had just picked up my swearing-in tickets (around 4) and decided to stop by the Convention Center around 4:40 -- glad I did. I was able to go in and get my tickets in under 20 minutes. Both Ticketmaster and PIC tickets were distributed.

Posted by: harperissac2008 | January 16, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

God I hope Obama runs the country better than his committee is running the ticket distribution.

I called PIC (Pres. Inaug. Comm.) 70 plus times yesterday (Thursday) to find out where to get tickets that I bought Wed. night. It was the official Southern Ball. They could not give me a straight answer. It went back and forth between mail (UPS) and pick up at the convention center. Ticketmaster kept saying it is Pick up/will call. Ticketmaster then closed.

What a fiasco. So today around lunch time, I went to the convention center to find out what is going on. I got in the Ticketmaster line which had no line. The donor line was separate, and was very long. The irony, the people that donated to Obama, had to wait in like a 3 hour line. I finally got my tickets and no UPS has shown up. If I had listened to PIC, I would still be waiting for UPS.

I complained to somebody at the Ticket Pick up. I am hoping I get 4 more tickets by UPS, so I can sell those 4. I sold 2 of my 4 for double face value (nothing outrageous just 300 each). That allowed me to basically get the tickets for free.

Post needs to do a story on this fiasco of a distribution. I feel very lucky to get the tickets.

Posted by: Southernballer | January 16, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

For the people who purchased on Wednesday, any idea when tickets can be picked up? Will there be will call on Tuesday?

Posted by: punkaj04 | January 17, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

What a complete fiasco. My wife volunteered for Obama. They sent us an email to buy tickets by making a donation. We arranged transportation to DC to attend the official balls on Tuesday. Now there is no way for us to get the tickets as they are not going to keep the Will Call open on Tuesday. I hear monday is the last day! What a mess - the staggering incompetence of these people.

Posted by: kenman1 | January 18, 2009 2:24 AM | Report abuse

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