A personal story of inaugural pride as crews make final preparations

Megan Cloherty, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – While crews across the city work to get ready for the inauguration, long-time D.C. resident Eleanor Hill says even though it’s thought of on a large scale, the inauguration means a lot to her.

Hill built a career with the State Department and started volunteering at the White House 24 years ago.

“I thought I would just do it maybe for a while. I just got addicted to it and I love it,” she says clutching a white envelope to her chest.

Hill has just picked up her inaugural parade tickets at the Washington Convention Center and she couldn’t be more willing to share her excitement.

“Here they are! And I’m guarding them with my life, yes, yes,” Hill says.

Hill has brought her children to every inaugural parade since they were young.

“I’d take them down to every parade and we sat on the corners and we sat on the curbs. This is the first time, in all my life, I get to sit in the stands. I’m so thrilled,” Hill says.

She peruses the convention center gift shop full of inaugural pens, pins and other trinkets that sit in front of a row of patriotic T-shirts commemorating President Obama’s second term.

Meanwhile, it’s crunch time downstairs for crews preparing the physical space where President Barack Obama and the first lady will have their inaugural dance.

Crews worked at a frenzied pace on the Washington Convention Center floor Friday with only days to spare before the official inaugural balls begin. Hundreds of contractors put up lights and set up the three levels of stages while volunteers unwrapped thousands of plastic cups.

“It definitely takes a lot of planning. We certainly look at every single space and look at the logistics,” says Greg O’Dell, president of Events DC.

More than 40,000 guests will be joining the Obamas and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife for the inaugural balls. And it won’t just be attended by VIPs. Tickets were made available for $60 for some grassroots supporters of the democratic presidential campaign.

“It’s important to the president and vice president that average everyday Americans have an opportunity — just like they participated in their campaign and in his administration — to participate in this inaugural ball,” says President of the Presidential Inaugural Committee Steve Kerrigan.

Thousands of volunteers from the presidential inaugural committee and Events DC will help set up, work and break down the event, O’Dell says. While it’s a lot of work, he says it will all get done in time.

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