Anticipating the “end of an era” and the start of a new chapter in American history, Brooklynites this week have flooded the offices of their representatives in Congress with requests to see Barack Hussein Obama officially sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.
Each representative has just 198 free tickets to attend the January 20 swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C. available to constituents — and according to staffers the demand has been staggering.
“It has gotten overwhelming,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s press secretary Ilan Kayatsky admitted.
Rep. Yvette Clarke’s office has received over 4,000 requests for tickets.
“It’s an amazing time,” spokesperson Anita Taylor said. “I never thought that I would see this day. When President [Bill] Clinton was doing his inauguration they had a lot of requests — but nothing like this. People really want to be a part of history.”
While Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton have indicated they they’ll use a lottery system to distribute their allotment of inauguration tickets, Congress members representing this part of Brooklyn say they haven’t yet exactly figured out how to equitably distribute their tickets.
For now, they’re asking people to go to their respective representative’s website and register for tickets online. Most have set up special phone lines as well.
“As of right now, we already have too many people on the list,” said Naz Durakoglu, press secretary for newly-elected Rep. Mike McMahon. “We are still kind of working on it because we didn’t expect the rush.”
Nadler’s office had anticipated doling out tickets on a first-come, first-served basis — but then received 200 requests in the 48 hours immediately following Obama’s election.
“We thought about criteria but we have no system yet,” Kayatsky said.
While all the available tickets for the inauguration are standing room only, that’s not stopping many senior citizens in Brooklyn hoping to be there.
“A lady who said she was 89 called us and said this is something she would love to go to,” said Taylor. “I’m sure that’s one of the things we would consider. We wish we could accommodate everyone.”
According to Durakoglu, people who called McMahon’s office right after the election will be getting tickets.
“But we’re not sure about the others,” she said.
Kayatsky, who formerly served as Nadler’s Brooklyn liaison, attributes the demand to a “very popular Democrat who has a tremendous amount of grassroots populace support.”
“People who I imagine never wanted to be part of the process are excited,” he said. “All of a sudden they’re represented in Washington.”
Tickets are not expected to be released until a week before the inauguration.
-- Additional reporting by Helen Klein
©2008 Community News Group
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