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Disappointed Inaugural Parade Ticket Holders Feel Left Out

The griping continues. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

We've now received complaints from ticket holders to the inaugural parade, including those who paid for their tickets, who say they were unable to get to their designated viewing areas on Inauguration Day. And they feel their voices have been stifled amid heavy coverage of the security chaos at the swearing-in ceremony.

It wasn't just those infamous purple, blue and silver tickets to the swearing-in ceremony whose value became worthless. Parade ticket holders, too, were prevented from getting to their bleacher seats. Sure enough, photos show plenty of empty seats and open spaces on the sidewalk lining Pennsylvania Avenue.

We received a letter today from Adam Fagen of Arlington, Va., who wrote, "I was one of the many who had PAID for a parade ticket but was never able to access the parade route because security checkpoints were so overwhelmed. And just like at the Capitol, there was no one maintaining order, [directing] people or otherwise assuring that the checkpoints were safe and orderly along the parade route. In short, it was a dangerous crowd control situation along a 2-mile route."

Fagen scolded the Sleuth and the Washington Post for ignoring what he said "should be a big story...The purple/blue/silver ticket fiasco is indeed an important story, but so is the parade."

Sunny Bredice of Los Angeles told us her husband bought parade tickets for them and their 11-year-old son for $800 a piece from Stage Front Tickets. They never made it to their seats, either. "I understand they were very good (empty) seats," she said in an email we received this afternoon. (Nor did they make it to their premium standing area for the swearing-in ceremony; they had blue tickets.)

A woman at the Tenleytown Whole Foods one evening recently said she and her boyfriend never made it to their bleacher seats, either.

And Washingtonian John Edgell, a Democratic consultant, told the Sleuth today he and his family couldn't get to their parade route viewing area. Here's what Edgell wrote in an email he sent to us today:

"Just look at photographs of the President and Mrs. Obama on the parade route between 7th and 12th streets and the sidewalks are almost barren, and the bleachers are half full. Then look at the tens of thousands of people who were kept outside the gates at the 7th, 10th and 12th street entrances, despite holding tickets, simply because of the low number of metal detectors at each entrance. There were only four metal detectors at each of those entrances. It's obvious the Secret Service wanted a parade with as few people in the crowd as possible, and they succeeded."

We'll likely find out more in about 30 days, when the joint law-enforcement investigation of the security meltdown ordered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). is expected to be released.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  January 29, 2009; 3:50 PM ET
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Wow, a slight misrepresentation Mary Ann. I didn't "gripe" about my parade tickets. You asked me if I had parade tickets!!! Further I explained the NATB is helping folks to work towards settlement. Now that would have been helpful reporting. Ethics? Agenda?

Posted by: sunnymbredice | January 29, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

$800 per ticket!? Someone paid $800 for PARADE tickets? Unbelievable.

Posted by: skipper7 | January 29, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | January 29, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

"Fagen scolded the Sleuth and the Washington Post for ignoring what he said 'should be a big story...The purple/blue/silver ticket fiasco is indeed an important story, but so is the parade.'"

Oh, it should be a big story, alright ... for the City Paper.

Posted by: staxnet | January 29, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I've been wondering what happened for the parade. I've seen very little news about it.

$800 each for a parade ticket? Wow. My round-trip flight from California and three nights of lodging didn't even cost me that much!

Posted by: Cali711 | January 29, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

As one of the Silver Ticket crowd, I would like to chime in with a report on the Disability Section at the front of the Silver Ticket zone. I had been told people who were deaf could go to the front of that section and would receive sign language interpretation there. Fortunately for my daughter, she decided in the end not to attend out of concern about the crowd. But I, with a ruptured tendon in my foot and a cane, attempted to get in that section, only to be told by the security screener that there was NO SUCH SECTION. By the time I discovered that there was, it was too late. I don't know who made it to the section because I couldn't see, but there were at least a thousand able-bodied people BEHIND the section, blocking all access. I spoke with one woman in a wheelchair, who was trapped in a sea of standing people, who could not get in and could see nothing. When I called the Inaugural Committee, I felt mighty dissed. I was told that an apology had been rendered. Puhleeze. That experience could not have been more demeaning. Oh, and I was told to write a letter.

Believe me, a "final report" is not going to fill the bill.

Posted by: ebliversidge | January 30, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Mary Ann,

I think you're great, I truly do, but you're really starting to bore me. Your obsession with this latest topic is a bit scary.

You're not related to Rod B. out in Illinois, are you?

The Inauguration was 10 days ago. Ten days! Yes, we feel bad for most of these folks, but can we just move on?

Surely there are more interesting and more recent topics you can Sleuth about, what with the new Cabinet and all.

Thanks for considering. Your friend,

Posted by: MikeK3 | January 30, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I made it to the swearing in with my family. Blue ticket holder. Great viewing. We had $600 worth of tickets to view the parade located at a building on Penn. Tickets costs $75 each and came with lunch. We made it from Blue, through the crush of people, to Purple and across Penn. We made it to 7th Street entrance where the letter that came with the tickets stated that we would have a separate entrance into the building. There was no separate entrance. Whoever dealt with security was unsympathetic and told us we had to wait until the gate was opened. The gate opened and they let about 50 people in and then the closed it. We knew we would never get in at that rate. $600 down the drain. If President Obama does anything, he needs to address this. Do we Americans really want to be herded through iron gates like this to see a parade? Where is our faith in ourselves? I was at the opening held at the Lincoln Memorial. I was standing closer to the Washington Monument. The crowd was happy and elated to be there! We were not herded in and out. We moved closer and enjoyed ourselves. When the event was over, we dispersed in all directions. I didn't hear a word that there was any trouble anywhere!

We went to see a PARADE!! My goodness, our own government would not let us stand on the street (in my case in a building) for hours, mostly in the cold, to watch a parade. This is what has become of the "land of the free."

Now let's talk Inaugural ball tickets....I mailed the Inaugural Committee $450 to purchase ball tickets. My check was cashed but I got nothing.... to the person who said they called the Inaugural Committee will you please do us all a favor and post the telephone number? I would love to give them a call.

Posted by: dcan | January 30, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I was a blue ticket holder, who was on the grounds by 7:00 am. It was about 11:30 am when I realized I was not going to make it in to see the swearing-in. I believe, that the "little people" were never intended to make it in. I then decided to go into the Rayburn building, where I must say the party was going on. People like Congressman John Conyers, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Eleanor Norton Holmes, and others had refreshments and big screens for their constituents and people like me, freeloaders. On the door of Rep. Alcee Hastings, was a placard that said ,"this office belongs to the people of the 23rd district of Florida". I like that, I thought.
As I went through the building, thinking were I'd like my office to be in another year or two when I run, I thought my goodness this building is so open to the public. If say, those 3 or 4 million, outside in the cold would come in here and demand that their representatives cut the BS, and do the "right thing"...I bet we'd see change we could believe in. So, I'm proposing that "We the people", begin to organize and strategize with solutions to "OUR" problems. And begin to convert in the capital instead of on the mall.

Posted by: thommie1 | January 30, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

It's true: parade checkpoints were the same kind of mess as swearing-in checkpoints were. I have a photo of empty bleachers on Penna. Ave. here: It was "only" 11:33 AM at the time, but keep in mind that it was announced several times in the days leading up to the parade that bleachers seats holders would be turned away with everyone else if/when the parade route filled, so get there early or else. Man, I was trying!

I was very, very lucky to eventually get into a bleachers section other than the one for which I was ticketed, which was unreachable because 1) it was on the south side of Penna. Ave., 2) I couldn't get there coming in on the Red Line because everyone was saying "don't try to transfer between lines, get out on foot," 3) I couldn't get there on foot because I spent all morning wandering downtown getting bad info from cops and PIC volunteers on how to get across the parade route.

And let's not forget the first part of my morning where, over and over, I would tell a policeman I was trying to get to my parade seats; they'd say "where are you sitting?" and I'd say "yellow" and then they'd give me a set of super-roundabout directions to what I later figured out was the yellow *swearing-in* checkpoint, not the yellow parade checkpoint!! That seems like a mistake that could have very easily been avoided...

Posted by: bug451 | January 31, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh. Seriously? I include a link to my photo of empty bleachers, and when I hit submit my post vanishes forever with no error message or other user feedback? If it is not permitted to include links with comments, it would be nice to have been informed of that BEFORE I spent any time writing up a summary of my experience that day.

Posted by: bug451 | January 31, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The "organizers" of this effort, Marisa McNee and Dave Meyer, obviously made a strategic blunder in naming their site "Purple Tunnel of Doom," since that inadvertantly left out in the cold, again, holders of Silver tickets, Blue tickets, parade route tickets, ball tickets, etc.

Maybe you think they can be forgiven because they were focused on their own miserable, dangerous time in the no-escape purple tunnel? You'd be wrong. They blithely walked out of the tunnel hours before the speeches and watched on a TV set at a restaurant brunch in Adams Morgan--at least, that what they told The New Republic.

They first squelched contrary opinion on their Facebook page that might have helped moderate what became a whine-fest focusing mostly on the voices of the those who felt entitled to dinner at the White House as compensation....then, when it became clear that was the wrong message, took to scubbing out of the Facebook page people whose requests for compensation they deemed excessive (probably resulting in the absence of an appropriate share of voice or Silver, Blue and parade ticket complaints). The whole thing's turned into a bad mess.

It's just hard to figure why the Democratic Party and the NDN think the cause benefits from their paid consultant, McNee, continuing this disaster--it hurts Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress.

When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging. The mission was to insure the organizers of the inauguration were aware they'd inconvenienced thousands of people, and to get them to investigate what happened and apologize? Mission acomplished. Now, shut it down.

Posted by: Trulee | February 1, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

As someone who had a great time with no ticket at all, I feel very lucky that I guessed right that supposedly special privileges would not work out that way.

After reading all of the advance information, I never understood what was "special" about having a ticket because it meant long lines and security screening, versus the luxury of basically strolling onto our national Mall at the very reasonable hour of 9 am. They even played the whole Sunday concert on the Jumbotron to keep us entertained. Of course I couldn't see a soul at the Capitol, just a white silhouette in the remote distance, but the day was about being there and will always be one of my best memories.

I hope those who were disappointed will give it another try in four years (I hope) by joining us in the "visual backdrop" part. I guarantee that joining the big crowd will be more fun and less stress than going for the VIP seats.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | February 2, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

It is very unfortunate that people were unable to get through security to see the Inauguration and the parade, but doesn't anyone else feel that Obama has many more important things to do? Like help bring the economy out of a recession, help create jobs for all of the thousands of people that lost one, create a better health care and retirement system, and fix our nations image. I am looking forward to America having a better image for the rest of the world. To not be the big corporate evil nation, and instead one that cares about making the world a better place. The Borgen Project ( has some interesting ideas on how to eliminate global poverty. It would cost $30 billion to eliminate global poverty (a small fraction of what the government spent on the defense budget, which was $522 billion). This would help to create a better image for America and in the long run would give us more security and allies.

Posted by: cougar_gal06 | February 2, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

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