By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 9, 2009
Tickets to President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration parade go on sale today.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced that 5,000 tickets will go on sale through Ticketmaster at 1 p.m. Tickets are $25 apiece, and paradegoers can purchase up to four, said committee spokesman Kevin Griffis. He said those interested should call Ticketmaster at 202-397-7328.
The tickets entitle holders to sit in the bleacher seats along the parade route, which goes west on Pennsylvania Avenue from Capitol Hill, north on 15th Street, and west again on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
Each ticket will assign the holder to a specific bleacher section, but not to a specific seat, he said.
Griffis said ticket holders must be in their seats by 1 p.m. The Jan. 20 parade starts between 2:30 and 3 p.m. About 300 parade tickets will be given to District students who win an essay contest, and others would likely go to VIPs.
Tickets are not required to stand along the parade route.
Gates to the parade area open at 7 a.m., Griffis said, and backpacks, strollers, thermoses and coolers are banned.
The 5,000 ticketed seats are dramatically fewer than the 20,000 that were available for President Bush's inauguration in 2005.
The seats were reduced after the ANSWER Coalition, an antiwar group, filed a federal lawsuit in 2005 charging that the large numbers of bleachers crowded out sidewalk spectators and protesters.
In addition, the activists contended that the bleacher tickets, controlled by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, were unfairly limited to Bush supporters, which officials denied. When people called Ticketmaster, they were told they needed an invitation and identification number to buy tickets, ANSWER said at the time.
Last March, U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman agreed with the coalition, saying, "the Inauguration is not a private event."