2,000 D.C. residents pick up tickets to Mayor-elect Gray's inaugural ball

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 28, 2010; 9:51 PM

About 2,000 residents scooped up 4,000 tickets to Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray's Sunday inaugural ball - a free concert that will feature, among other local artists, Chuck Brown, the godfather of the city's homegrown go-go music, and R&B crooner Raheem DeVaughn.

Both musicians have been nominated for 2010 Grammy awards.

The 7 p.m. black-tie event will cap a long day that begins with an ecumenical prayer service and the swearing-in of Gray, Council Chairman-elect Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) and other council members.

Like Gray's successful campaign against Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and the mayor-elect's transition, the inaugural is using a "One City" theme, "praying together, moving forward together and celebrating together," said Lorraine Green, chairwoman of the transition.

The inaugural ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center will accommodate 10,000 guests. The transition set aside 2,500 tickets for campaign workers and volunteers, advisory neighborhood commissioners and other city officials, Green said.

That leaves 7,500 tickets. Although the tickets weren't going fast during two days of distribution last week, a flood of residents appeared Tuesday for the continuation of the giveaway at the convention center.

Dozens and dozens of residents were in line before 10 a.m. when the distribution began, and the wait lasted a half hour.

In 2006, Fenty's inaugural ball drew thousands of residents and problems with security left many residents out in the cold. As a solution, tickets suddenly became useless, and party-crashers were welcomed. Guests complained of long lines to the food provided by local restaurants and a lack of enough chairs. The ball, which had been expected to draw 15,000 guests, became more attractive when it was pushed to a Saturday. Fenty postponed the event from a Tuesday, which had been declared a federal holiday to mark the death of former president Gerald R. Ford.

Green said the convention center gave Gray's transition team a book on what went wrong and what went right with Fenty's ball. She said the transition scaled back the event to put in more controls and to keep costs down. Green said she still did not know the final cost of the ball.

Tickets will be available Wednesday and Thursday in Room 145 at the convention center. Residents must show a photo ID and are limited to two tickets each. Tickets are not required for the prayer service, which begins at 8 a.m., or the 10 a.m. swearing-in. Both are at the conventions center.

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