Inauguration plans? Think tent
Hotel rooms in the greater Washington-Baltimore area are sold out for the days surrounding President-elect Barack Obama's January inauguration, a St. Petersburg travel agent says.
"I couldn't find a single room yesterday,'' says Markus Mittermayr, president of St. Petersburg Travel Center, who checked for rooms from Sunday the 18th through Wednesday the 21st. "I think maybe somebody up there has blocked out all the rooms. I've never seen anything like this, where there is no room, not even for $500 or $800 a night.''
One of his clients, Yvonne Henderson, plans to bring two buses of people from Birmingham.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion,'' says Henderson, 53. Her father, who was active in Birmingham politics, recently died at age 98. "There's no place I'd rather be on the 20th of January than in Washington, and I am going to dedicate it to my dad.''
Henderson says she is working the Internet to find hotel space, anywhere in Virginia or Maryland. "I don't care how far away it is. Birmingham is much farther.''
U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young has already received more than 500 requests for tickets, says chief of staff Harry Glenn. The joint House and Senate committee that will dole out tickets to members of Congress has not yet decided on the allotment, but in the past, each member received 100-200 tickets, Glenn said. After weeding out requests from outside his district, Young's office will hand out the tickets on a first-come basis, Glenn said.
About 240,000 tickets will admit people to seats and standing areas in a secure area from the Capitol building west toward the Mall. As in past years, other areas farther back along the Mall will be open to the public without restriction, Glenn said. Large-screen television sets placed along the Mall will show closeup views.