Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Thousands of Ticket-Holders Turned Away

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Inauguration Day disappointed thousands of ticket-holders who were turned away from ticket gates on Tuesday. Many have reported confusion and chaos at multiple gates, specifically for those assigned to the north, west and south standing sections that corresponded to the purple-, blue- and silver-colored tickets.

People waiting at the purple gate, which was located in front of the reflecting pool, reported that the situation was very disorganized. Many who arrived hours in advance reported that they waited in line at the 3rd Street Tunnel without any police presence or information from other officials, and were eventually turned away. For most of the wait, the people in the line remained positive and chanted “We Are One” and “O-ba-ma.” It wasn’t until approximately 11 a.m. that people started to get upset and began chanting “Let us in!”

“It’s really sad that people who came together to celebrate change experienced so much of the old-Washington problems,” one purple ticket-holder, Jeff Pecaro said. “We believed we had the chance to witness history, but that was taken from us because of poor planning, incompetence or insufficient staff.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, released a statement yesterday, saying that unprecedented crowds overwhelmed Mall security.

“It is clear that there were significant problems with managing crowds, especially in the 3rd Tunnel, and the agencies involved are in the process of sorting out exactly what happened,” Feinstein said.

According to The Washington Post, the official estimate is that 1.8 million people viewed the swearing-in ceremony from the Mall; however, a projection as high as 4 million had been released in the months prior to the event.

The committee said in a statement released on Wednesday, “The JCCIC, U.S. Capitol Police and our federal and local partners will thoroughly examine every aspect of our planning including ticketing, screening, pedestrian flows, gate numbers and placement, to provide a foundation of lessons learned to future inaugural planners, so that they have the information they need to prevent similar problems.”

Those waiting in line were not only frustrated with being denied entrance, but also with the lack of information from officials.

“We had no way of communicating with any police officials or others who could have informed us of the problems that were going on, nor was any attempt made by such officials to communicate with us. As a result of this debacle, I, along with tens of thousands of others, was [wrongly] denied the chance to witness history,” said Tom Lawrence, a sophomore at The George Washington University.

Further adding to the confusion, the maps given to the ticket-holders along with their tickets marked the incorrect security screening and entry locations. The map indicated that the entrance to the purple section was several blocks away from its actual location. Corrected maps were handed out to some, but not all ticket-holders.

Certain checkpoints also lost generator power, rendering metal detectors powerless and forced security officials to use hand wands to check ticket-holders, according to The Washington Post.

Several angry ticket-holders have sent letters and e-mails to the White House, the local news and to Feinstein describing their personal experiences in line and asking for some sort of compensation. The Washington Post and many other news outlets are accepting and in many cases, requesting letters and online comments from spurned ticket holders, describing what happened on Tuesday.

Kristin Halsing (COL ’12) sent a letter to The Washington Post describing her experience.

“We couldn’t even go on the mall, which was already closed. I listened to Obama’s speech wandering around the grounds waiting for the event to be over, on my cell phone with my dad placing his up to the television at home. People around me were extremely angry, disappointed and teary,” she said in her letter.

Although many ticket-holders are angry with the planning committee and police force for poorly managing the ticket gates, others have expressed their understanding for the confusion on Tuesday. Some said they still feel that it was a positive experience, and that they were still a part of history that day.

“I really feel for people who came from far and wide, and I acknowledge that D.C. police and the party planners screwed up a little bit. . These things are logistical disasters, but people should try to stay positive,” said one ticket-holder, Jacob Kurtzer.

A majority of those denied access to the inauguration have taken to the Internet. A Facebook group called “Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom,” was created shortly after the inauguration ceremonies ended. According to the description, “This is a group dedicated to all those with purple, blue or other tickets to the inauguration who braved the early morning cold (and the crowds) only to end up in the proverbial or literal Purple Tunnel of Doom.” As of Thursday at 7 p.m., the group boasted 3,653 members.

Some purple ticket-holders were lucky enough to navigate the confusion and find their way into the Mall in time.

Colleen Ramsey Nguyen (GRD ’10) said that she barely made it in time.

“I noticed where the gate was going to open so I squeezed my way there, because there was no semblance of a line anymore – the masses just filled the intersection. I was literally pushed through the gate,” Ramsey said.

According to The Washington Post, the committee sent an e-mail to congressional staff stating that Feinstein will be sending memorabilia packages to ticket-holders denied access to the swearing-in ceremony that include a souvenir program and color photos of President Obama.

Check out The Hoya’s city blog, Outside the Gates, for more inauguration recaps and student experiences.

Be sure to also take a look at The Hoya’s Inauguration photo albums, Inaugural Photos.

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