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UPDATED: King Day - Brian Charles on Inauguration Eve excitement

KHTS in a.m. and p.m.; AOC students, McKeon in afternoon

Posted: January 19, 2009 1:09 p.m.
Updated: January 19, 2009 1:37 p.m.

A sea of chairs awaits the people who will witness Tuesday's historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama in Washington D.C.

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Editor's note: Signal Staff Writer Brian Charles, in Washington. D.C., to cover the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama for The Signal and, phoned home this morning to talk on the air with KHTS AM 1220 morning host John Summers. Click on the left to hear his report.

The following is the twelfth in his series of exclusive reports:

The slow buildup to the inauguration is over. The trickles of people streaming down the streets of Washington Sunday turned into a tsunami by noon Monday.

Inauguration eve was filled with people from all over the country, many wearing hats, jackets and other clothing emblazoned with Obama's and and image.

Some visitors overcame obstacles to arrive at the inauguration.

"We drove from 25 hours from Minnesota," said Scott Kummrow, 28, of Fergus Falls, Minn. Kummrow is the band director for Fergus Falls High School. The 120-person band is marching in the inauguration parade, by far the biggest event of the bandmembers' lives, Kummrow said.

"It was negative 50 in Fergus Falls when we left," Kummrow said.

The bandmembers raised $68,000 and endured six bathroom breaks during their trip to make it to the inauguration. But it's worth it, Kummrow said.

"I didn't imagine we would be here," said Steve Conrad, 15, of Fergus Falls, who plays trumpet. Until the Senate Inaugural Committee gave Fergus Falls the okay to play the parade, Conrad wasn't sure (the band) would be on this national stage.

Stacie DeBerry, 37, of Valencia, wasn't sure she would get a ticket to the inauguration. 

Her ticket request was denied in early December. "I already booked my plane tickets," she said.

DeBerry didn't cancel her flight. "I held out hope," she said.

DeBerry called Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon's (R-Santa Clarita) office in early January and asked if there were any cancellations.

"(McKeon's office) called on Wednesday and told me they had a ticket for me," DeBerry said.

DeBerry grinned as she walked through McKeon's Washington office to claim her ticket. "I feel like I have one of the golden tickets," she said.

A steady stream of local inauguration-goers filed through McKeon's office Monday to pick up their tickets and meet the Congressman.

"One girl couldn't stop laughing -- she was just giddy," McKeon said.

This is the fifth presidential inauguration McKeon has seen since he won his Congressional seat in 1992.

The previous four inaugurations pale in numbers of people and pageantry to this one, he said.

"I've never seen anything like this before," McKeon added.

"The energy is building. It's really exciting," said Jenna Edzant, 17, of Stevenson Ranch.

Edzant is one of the Academy of the Canyons students who journeyed to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration. She spent Monday touring the monuments and soaking up the festive atmosphere.

"It still hasn't hit me that I'm going to see a presidential inauguration and the inauguration of the first black president," said Cody Cooper, an AOC student from Canyon Country.

The Capitol building awed Cooper, 17, as he and fellow AOC students made their way to McKeon's office for a afternoon meeting, he said.

McKeon handed the students their inauguration tickets and gave them a quick speech on why he is involved in politics.

"You have to have a cause -- a reason that you're in Washington," McKeon said.

Including people of all ages in this event is critical, McKeon said.

"Older people need to be here to see how far we've come," McKeon said. "For younger people this is a chance to see a part of history they will carry for the rest of their lives."


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