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Inaugural Parties Are Shaping Up And Selling Out

By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 16, 2004; Page C01

The tickets for Washington's hottest inaugural bash went in 48 minutes, all 10,000 of them.

The ones with the Hollywood firepower, with Macy Gray headlining, went on sale yesterday at $1,000 a pop. By the close of business, perhaps 200 of the 1,000 tickets were still available.

The musical lineup for inauguration week features Macy Gray, above, Ray Benson with Asleep at the Wheel, Yolanda Adams, Lyle Lovett and Clay Walker. (Kathy Willens -- AP)

_____Inauguration 2005_____
Inaugural Events to Salute Armed Forces (The Washington Post, Dec 16, 2004)
Lobbying to Beat the Other Bands (The Washington Post, Dec 14, 2004)
Inaugural Balls
_____On the Web_____
55th Presidential Inauguration

Even before the few public tickets for the nine official inaugural balls go on sale or the artists performing at those events are announced, the parties around the nation's 55th presidential inauguration are shaping up to be hard sellouts by the end of the holidays.

Greg Jenkins, executive director of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said yesterday that there would be a "public component" to the official galas, but he did not elaborate. Jenkins said ticket information about those events would be released later in the month. (The committee's Web site is www.inaugural05.com.)

Meanwhile, for the average partygoer, for the everyman without political connections to congressional or corporate tickets, tickets to some of the events surrounding the inauguration are already moving out of reach.

"Oh, the ones who wake up after Christmas and say, 'Gee, now let's go to the inauguration' -- those are the sad ones," says Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), president of the Texas State Society and overseer of its wildly popular Black Tie and Boots Ball on Jan. 19. "We have sponsors who show up with checks for $50,000 and I have to turn them down. We don't have anywhere to put them."

The ball is held each inauguration but soared in popularity four years ago, with a Texan moving into the White House. This time around, with the man from Crawford keeping the Texas connection alive, the $125 tickets for the event at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel went on sale Nov. 10 only to members of the Texas State Society.

The night-long, multi-stage event features music acts such as Asleep at the Wheel, Clay Walker, Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Neal McCoy, the Derailers, the Gourds, Del Castillo and Yolanda Adams.

The 10,000 tickets were gone in just under 50 minutes, according to event coordinators.

"It was like a rock concert," says Nancy Ames, co-owner of the company handling the event.

Yesterday, tickets on eBay were offered for $2,000 and up. Tickets to the society's Backstage Party, for a younger crowd on Jan. 18, were sold out, too.

It was still possible late yesterday to pay the face price of $1,000 for the Ball After the Balls, the Creative Coalition's glitzy affair headlined by funk/soul diva Gray on Jan. 20, the night of the inauguration.

"We announced Macy this morning, and we're three-quarters sold out," said Robin Bronk, executive director of the coalition, the nonpartisan lobbying arm of the entertainment industry. "We've got real food, real bar, real rock-and-roll talent, real gift bags -- and we'll have the heat on, too."

The party, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, expects guests as diverse as Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.), actors Joe Pantoliano and Tony Goldwyn, and TV luminaries Tucker Carlson and John McLaughlin.

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