Tickets To Inauguration No Guarantee Of Spot

Those who had tickets to the inauguration for the coveted spots up close were supposed to be guaranteed a spot. But by midmorning, the crowding was so intense that thousands of ticket holders were turned away.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Before that luncheon, hours before, crowds of people holding tickets for the inauguration lined up outside checkpoints. As NPR's Neda Ulaby found, some of those people never made it to their allotted places.

NEDA ULABY: Darian Singer(ph) and Christopher Roland(ph) thought they had it made. The two had scored a pair of tickets to the blue section, right on the grounds of the Capitol. The got in line this morning at seven a.m., and they waited and waited and waited.

Mr. CHRISTOPHER ROLAND: It was ridiculous. And they over-ticketed. At the end of the day, there's no way all these people could have fit in this space on the Mall that was designated blue. It was just over the top.

ULABY: A massive crush of people held the streets around First and Constitution in human gridlock for hours. They included Judy Holmes(ph) and her daughter Madeleine Middlebrooks(ph) from St. Louis, Missouri.

Ms. JUDY HOLMES: We were purple ticket holders, and there's supposed to be two gates open. And now they've only opened up one gate, so those who were up against the first gate, we just never got in. We're just in the huge crowd and no information. Police officers wouldn't talk to us, security wouldn't talk to us. There was no information.

ULABY: Police on the scene would not verify any of the stories circulating through the crowds that overflow from more expensive sections took up room in the purple, silver and blue. Or that mobs pushing past barriers resulted in gates being sealed. Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse told the Washington Post that the crowd was cut off after a surge at the end. Mark Peters(ph) was among those turned away at the purple gate.

Mr. MARK PETERS: I feel like we just were - I don't know, just doomed or cursed with these tickets that were supposed to be great, and we were just really shut out.

ULABY: Peters, like many other inaugural ticket-holders, says he wishes he'd bailed earlier and stood with the masses further down on the National Mall, or even at a bar. For that, it's not too late, says frustrated ticket-holder Christopher Roland.

Mr. ROLAND: We're going to go watch the reruns on TV and drink.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ULABY: Roland says, at least, the crowds were generally orderly. And he says, although he participated in a cold, unfun part of history, at least he was sort of there. Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

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