Nearly two million people flocked to Washington D.C. this past weekend to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama.
Only 240,000 tickets were issued to grant access to the areas closest to the western front of the United States Capitol. Many ticket-holders found that just because they had a ticket, their entry to the National Mall would not be easy, or even guaranteed.
Some visitors, who waited to enter the “silver” ticket area – the largest of the color-coded ticket areas – lined up as early as 5 am. Many more ticket-holders continued to get in line throughout the morning. As the beginning of the official ceremonies approached, it became clear that the line would not move quickly enough for all ticket holders to enter.
Many people with tickets simply turned back, discouraged. Others continued to move towards the gate. At least 1,000 individuals with tickets were not able to enter.
There were serious logistical issues at other ticket areas as well.
As some visitors continued to move closer to the gate, it was clear that security would not let anyone enter, or even cross Independence Ave., which runs parallel to the National Mall. Those ticket-holders – who were closest to the gate – collectively waved their tickets in the air and chanted, “Let us in!”
The massive crowd eventually overwhelmed security personnel, crossed Independence Ave., and entered the surprisingly empty “silver” ticket area. But those who did make it in didn’t even have to show their tickets, which were supposed to grant access to this “reserved section.”
Despite the unorganized and somewhat chaotic entry, the mood on the Mall was upbeat, cheerful and amiable. Onlookers cheered wildly as President Barack Obama was introduced and sworn in. The crowd hushed as they listened intently to Obama’s inaugural address.
After the ceremony, the crowd celebrated with communal hugs, dancing and cheers.
Here’s a video of C.J. Hague rushing into the ticketed area at the inauguration: