To hitch a ride with an area resident to the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, visit www.obamainaugurationrideshare.com.
Following an election in which President-elect Barack Obama carried only one precinct in Hall County, local Democrats are coming out of the woodwork and flocking to Washington, D.C., to view the inauguration ceremony from the Capitol lawn.
On Jan. 20, a few residents of Hall County will be among the crowds swarming the U.S. capitol for Obama’s inauguration.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian M. Fenty says the city is preparing to welcome 2.5 million to 3 million people for the inauguration, but no one knows exactly how many people will attend the ceremony.
Some sources estimate as many as 4 million people may attend.
Gainesville residents Tina and Andy Maddox will trek to Washington, D.C., and attend the inauguration alongside locals Jody and Lora Cooley. The Maddox family will have their sons Will, 16, Jake, 14, and Luke, 11, in tow. The Cooleys will also bring their daughters Lila, 16, and Abby, 15.
"I wanted to go because I felt like it was such an historic event," Lora Cooley said. "I worked for the (Obama) campaign and I want to go up there and experience it."
The two families plan to leave Gainesville on Jan. 17 and will barrel down the highway toward our nation’s capital. They will stay at the Washington-area home of Andy Maddox’s parents.
For Andy Maddox, son of Robert Maddox, who was a speech writer and religious affairs consultant in President Jimmy Carter’s administration, this inauguration is his fourth.
While the grandeur of the inaugural ceremonies and balls may be old hat for Andy Maddox, he said he believes it’s particularly important his children witness this highly anticipated inauguration.
"As we go through this transition, it’s important for these kids to see it go from a campaign to the inauguration," Andy Maddox said. "There was a lot of passion on both sides of this campaign. And I think it’s also important for them to see everybody come together for this peaceful transition of power."
Gainesville High School junior Lila Cooley said she followed the 2008 election much more closely than the 2004 showdown between John Kerry and George W. Bush.
"Everybody at school was talking about it," she said of the election. "... I think it’s really cool that I’ll get to be (at the inauguration)."
Lila Cooley said despite the large Republican representation in the actual Hall County polls, the mock election at Gainesville High School put Obama far ahead of Republican candidate Sen. John McCain. She said she was excited to see young people thinking independently of their parents’ political leanings.
Jody Cooley said he was moved by the events of Nov. 4.
"I think every American who watched those speeches, by both John McCain and Barack Obama, know there was something different. There was a sea change," he said.
"I think there’s a sense that we really want this to work," Andy Maddox said of the upcoming administration change.
As for the approaching adventure to Washington, D.C., Jody Cooley said he thinks the time spent weaving through D.C. traffic and wading through crowds will create memories his family and friends will never forget.
"At the end of the day, I think this is going to be a fun five days. Washington, D.C., is the freest city in the world," he said.
"I think it will be fun to be in the presence of such an important event. So we’ll go with 4 million other people and see the backs of toboggans."