Crush of interest means no tickets required for early viewing of King memorial

Due to what Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) called “overwhelming demand,” the District is abandoning plans to require city residents to get a ticket to get an early peek at the soon-to-open Martin Luther King Memorial on the Mall.

The memorial will be formally unveiled Aug. 28. But Gray announced last week that the city had worked with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation to hold a special viewing for District residents next Tuesday.

Initially, Gray hoped to distribute tickets to the event. But now Gray is saying organizers plan to open the memorial for anyone who shows up for what is being dubbed “D.C. Day.”

“The interest that has been demonstrated in this is overwhelming,” said Gray, noting and his staff have been hounded for tickets. “It’s pretty clear there are going to be more people than we can handle with tickets.”

Gray said the memorial will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on D.C. Day, Aug. 23.

Although the event is designed for District residents, Gray said the city won’t--and, legally, can’t--prevent suburbanites or out-of-towners from also viewing the memorial that day.

The special viewing will kick off a week-long series of events to dedicate the memorial that is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.

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