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Gray scraps tickets plan for early viewing of King Memorial

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Because of what Mayor Vincent C. Gray called “overwhelming demand,” the District is abandoning plans to require city residents to get tickets to get an early peek at the soon-to-open Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on the Mall.

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

Initially, Gray planned to distribute tickets to the event. But the mayor said Tuesday that organizers plan to open the memorial for everyone on what is being dubbed “D.C. Day.”

“The interest that has been demonstrated in this is overwhelming,” said Gray, noting he 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.”

The mayor said the memorial will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday.

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

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

A 30-foot sculpture of King will stand beside the Tidal Basin, adjacent to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.

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