Security tight at Emanuel inauguration

May 17, 2011 4:34:02 AM PDT
Monday's inauguration of Rahm Emanuel as mayor of Chicago attracted a ''who's who'' of politicians from Washington to Los Angeles and a security lockdown befitting such an event.

It was an impressive line-up of elected officials, all in one place, outside, gathering just after the morning rush hour. So there were more than the normal security concerns for a Chicago political event. With not only the new mayor and his family, several previous mayors and the City Council, there were top county officials, members of Congress, including both Of U.S. senators from Illinois, the mayor of Los Angeles and Vice President Joe Biden.

Those without VIP credentials were relegated to a series of security checkpoints that had been set at the entrance to the Pritzker Pavillion.

Well-heeled attendees were seated up front after paying up to $50,000 for tickets to the privately-financed inauguration and several private weekend events.

Rank-and-file Chicagoans, who were admitted for free, filled about only half of the lawn area.

Among those attendees were five students from Saudi Arabia.

"This is new for me," said Ahmad Alfharhan, "so I wanted to see what happens here."

Along the perimeter was an array of Chicago emergency vehicles, including mobile security cameras that were beamed back to the city's 9-1-1 command center.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner arrived with his own Secret Service detail, as did Rahm Emanuel's replacement as White House chief of staff, William Daley, the ex-mayor's brother.

On stage there were plenty of dignitaries all in one place, including an unusual public appearance by Jane Byrne, still the only woman ever to serve as Chicago mayor. Mrs. Byrne turns 77 next week.

The mannered crowd provided no challenge to authorities and the ceremony went off without a hitch.

Afterward, the legion of luminaries left Millennium Park and talked to ABC7 about the inauguration of Chicago's first new mayor in 22 years.

"I'm a teacher, so I'm appreciative of the fact that he talked so much about quality schools," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

"I thought mayor Emanuel captured the moment perfectly," said CTA President Forest Claypool. "We have enormous problem in our schools and our streets and our finances, and unless problems are solved, Chicago can't remain a world-class city."

There were numerous VIP packages sold to finance the inaugural ceremony. A $50,000 ticket bought the title of co-chair and access to premium events well as the inauguration.

A $25,000 ticket meant you were a sponsor. You got four tickets to the Saturday Grant Park concert by Chicago, tickets to the dinner and two tickets to the receptions and to the inauguration itself.

A "supporter" ticket was $10,000. And then to be a "friend" of the inauguration it was a $5,000 ticket, which also got you two reserved tickets to the inauguration itself.

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