Valley Locals Share D.C. Inaugural Experiences

January 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Over one and a half million people attended Tuesday's inauguration. Several valley residents and leaders were in the crowd.For the better part of the morning reaching people in D.C. was near impossible. But once the cell phone traffic eased up everyone from the Valley said attending the inauguration was unbelievable and a true moment in history.

All eyes were watching Tuesday morning as Illinois Senator Barack Obama became the 44th President and pledged to lead America into the future. This sea of onlookers included dozens of people from the Central valley.

Valley resident Karen Hill-Scott said: "A moment of passion. A moment of hope, of belief. A moment of being a part of it just seeing what tomorrow?I'm thinking of my children."

Last week Hill-Scott showed Action News 200 specially designed bible covers she planned to hand out at the inauguration. On the phone she said she handed one to President Obama on Sunday.

"He grabbed that Bible in my hand and he just said, 'God bless you. Thank you' said Hill-Scott.

Valley veteran Arthur Nolan stood just a block away from the capitol as President Obama gave his inaugural speech. Nolan said he never thought an African-American would become the Commander-in-Chief.

"It was just like watching Charlton Heston in 'Moses'?delivering the people," said Nolan.

"Getting married, having kids, being sworn in and attending this are probably some of the biggest moments of my life," said Fresno's new mayor Ashley Swearengin.

Swearengin is in D.C. for the inauguration, and to attend the U.S. conference of mayors. She said after hearing Obama's speech she feels there is renewed hope in this financially troubled time.

"It appears that they have a real keen concern for what's going on in our cities in America and we certainly expect to be front and center in terms of working closely with our congressional delegation and the new administration," said the mayor.

Everyone said despite being squashed together in and around the National Mall the crowd was friendly and relishing in this extraordinary moment.

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My colleague and I were on the metro by 6:30am today. We were up at 4:30am. She is a good friend actually a Pastor friend from Northern CA. It was so crowded we had to pass on metro trains until we could find a metro with space for a couple of people. Never, never ever seen so many people at the same time at the same place. Spirits were good, energy was high. Lots if not all of bridges and roads closed which did not affect us given we were on the metro, however, added people to public transportation. We had swearing in tickets for the purple section. We were in a mob of people for the purple section entrance until police said we had to move to a tunnel to form a line. This set us back 2-3-4 hours, lost track of time since we were all excited (mind you, this was thousands of us). We finally got into the ceremony after 11:15am however, everyone was still energized. Word was that law enforcement had no idea there would be so many of us so early forming several lines which caused alittle chaos. However, everyone happily cooperated. Think they could of used more signs, bull horns, volunteers and law enforcement to given instructions/direction. Everyone was obedient. Thank God we had peace as it could have been frustrating, but you rarely saw or heard it.

Upon entering the ceremony, we were in AWE! It was like a movie. There were so, so many people all with the same intention of watching history in the making. Lots of emotion, thrill and excitement and much hope not fear as our President recited in his speech. There was a heartwarming moment in which President Obama and our First Lady paid their farewell respects to former President Bush and Laura Bush as they were boarding Air force One. It was special and beautiful and emotional. To see Air Force One fly over us, everyone was gracious and waved to President Bush and his wife. The weather was tolerable. Lots of us got tips yesterday while waiting in long lines (hours) for our swearing in tickets from our Congressman to stay warm. We shopped for "Hotties (aka: hand and feet warmers). Lots and lots and lots and lots of people stayed after the ceremony to take more historical pictures. Law enforcement was gracious and allowed us to take pictures, think they felt part of the celebration too even if they were on duty. Thereafter, we walked and walked to find a place to thaw out, relax our feet and grab some lunch. We tried at least a dozen café's, restaurants, etc. and all had 2 - 3 hour waits. Finally, we settled for waiting in a long line at Starbucks. We left downtown area at approximately 4pm = 5pm to take the metro. My goodness, still swamped with people. Again, you had to wait for a metro which could handle one or two more people. Now we are at the hotel in Crystal City getting ready to attend the All American Inaugural Ball. I must say though our feet hurt and still thawing out, it was well, well worth it. We have been running hard since arriving on Sunday night. We attended the Latino Ball where Marc Anthony, Paulina Rubio and other stars entertained us and continued running thru today. We are extremely tired but will not rest until tomorrow given HISTORY was made today.

The energy yesterday given it was Martin Luther King's Holiday and today the Inauguration of the first ever African American President was so, so awesome. I text friends and family back home to pinch me via text as I could not believe what I was experiencing. By the way, there are so, so many African American people here from all over the world starting yesterday and of course today. Again such a wonderful environment and great energy and spirits.

Resident, Fresno

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