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Time Hasn't Healed These Wounds

Ticket holders for the official inaugural Youth Ball waiting at the Hilton Washington. Many people found themselves shut out of a firsthard view to the proceedings. (Paul Smith)

It's been three months since the inauguration -- a magical night in Washington for thousands, and a heartbreak for hundreds who had the misfortune to pick the wrong balls.

These were the parties that never happened, such as the abruptly canceled American Music Inaugural Ball; or oversold events, including the Presidential Inaugural Committee's Youth Ball, which left scores out in the cold. So, how has it worked out for those ticket holders, who last we checked were bitterly seeking recourse?

Those who signed on for the glitzy American Music Inaugural Ball, hosted by Dionne Warwick (and not affiliated with the PIC), were frustrated by the sudden evaporation of the group from which they bought $450 tickets. Promoter Guy Draper never responded to our calls or e-mails. Many got refunds -- but only by challenging their credit-card charges. Tony Reddick, who started a blog devoted to the "AMIB Fiasco," said he's heard from others who have not been compensated. Brenda Kelley-Nelum of Woodbridge says the refund can't make up for a lost opportunity: "We wanted that experience for us and our grandson." Warwick's rep told us in late January the singer only lent her name to the affair but was working to help people get refunds. No response to our request for an update this week.

The Youth Ball, attended by the Obamas, was so overcrowded that hundreds were shunted to an overflow room and shut out of festivities; others stood in a freezing line outside the Hilton Washington for hours and were never admitted. One campaign volunteer was so frustrated that she never got a response from the PIC that she's considering small claims court. "From the complete lack of response, I am very concerned that the same people responsible for this fiasco are now working in the administration," said another disgruntled guest, Robert Tessaro of Rosslyn.

Former PIC spokesman Josh Earnest, now with the White House press office, was traveling with the president and did not respond to a request for comment.

Sindy Edward, Joya Holley and Tiffany Shannon, hours before they ended up among the aggrieved ticket-holders for the canceled American Music Inaugural Ball. (Courtesy Tiffany Shannon)

By The Reliable Source  |  April 20, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
Categories:  Parties  
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