Committee plans Obama's inauguration

November 26, 2008 3:19:39 PM PST
Some of the biggest names in Chicago are now planning president-elect Barack Obama's Inauguration. They're striving to balance everything from access for the public to expenses, given the nation's financial woes. There are Inaugural balls, a parade and the ceremony itself. The government provides a little more than a million dollars so most of the expense is picked-up by private donors. President-elect Obama says he won't take money from political action committees and won't accept more than $50,000 from any individual donor. He has also got one other priority -- making the event bi-partisan.

While Aon Insurance founder Patrick Ryan -- who is a Republican -- is close with Chicago's Democratic mayor and has traveled the world with Daley chairing the city's Olympic bid, it's safe to say he most likely didn't vote for Barack Obama.

"I think it was a very wise move by President-Elect Obama to want to have bi-partisan participation, so I was honored," said Patrick Ryan, Obama Inaugural Committee Co-Chair.

Another honor for Ryan and potential plus for Chicago's efforts to land the Olympics is the fact four of the five people chairing Obama's Inaugural Committee also sit on the Chicago 2016 Board of Directors. They are bracing for record crowds in DC. Estimates range anywhere from a million-and-a-half to four million people.

Members of the Presidential Inaugural Committee say it is important to Obama that Inauguration Day in DC be multi-cultural -- much like his election night gathering in Grant Park.

United Airlines expects so much traffic between Chicago and Washington, they're adding six new flights Inauguration week and will fly bigger planes, each capable of carrying 60 more passengers.

The phones in Congressional offices in Chicago and across the country have been ringing off the hook. Your representative or senator is the only way to get one of the roughly 240,000 tickets to the actual swearing-in. Each Congressional office is only being allotted 198 tickets. Some will distribute tickets by lottery; others plan to play favorites, offering first dibs to supporters.

"Everybody tells us about the 85-year-old grandmother who wants to come because she never thought she'd see this day," said congressional staffer.

Pat Ryan says his Committee likely won't get involved in the tiff over ticket distribution but even as a lifelong Republican he's hoping for a huge crowd.

"If four million people show-up that, I think , will reflect what President-Elect Obama wants. He wants it to be for the people and it should be," said Ryan.

Almost all of the local representatives and senators in the Chicago area are refusing to break down how many tickets will go to friends and supporters versus the general public.


Load Comments