Source: The Independent

Springs Family Attends Inauguration

by Kitty Merrill

January 23, 2013

Beyoncé singing the National Anthem, and the president and Michelle Obama within shouting distance. “It was a really amazing sight, all of a sudden we are looking at the podium and then President Obama walks towards us through the red drapes. I never thought I would be that close to our President. It feels pretty amazing to know you are a part of the 57th Presidential Inauguration. It’s history and I’ll remember it forever,” said Andrew McPartland, 13, of Springs.

“It was a bucket list item,” his mother Mary McPartland offered Monday evening as she and Andrew headed to the airport to board a plane home from the Capitol. “The flags waving and all these crazy Americans waving their little flags, it’s overwhelming, the patriotism . . . Every healthy American should do this at least once in their lifetime. It’s really a people’s thing.”

“We had a close view, so I can definitely say I felt like we were part of the swearing in,” Andrew continued. “We saw the Chief Justice, Mrs. Obama and the girls. They looked really nice. Beyoncé was amazing.”

At one point, Mary related, Andrew climbed atop a cement pedestal, and “A lady from Texas paid him $20 to take a picture with her camera.” It was estimated that 800,000 people attended Monday’s inaugural ceremonies.

After the swearing in, the McPartlands attended the official parade. “We saw Vice President Biden pass us in the parade. It was a great feeling to study all about the US government and then to see it all up close,” Andrew, an eighth grader at Springs School, related.

The city was “nuts,” Mary reported, referring to the crowds. But, she said, the feeling was nothing like New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Order blended with an atmosphere of elation. “It was open, orderly and friendly,” she said, noting the weekend’s events were “really designed for the people.”

The pair elected to skip the inaugural ball, because there was school on Tuesday. Still, they got a taste of the revelry. “We were on the subway and the doors opened and all these people in ball gowns and tuxedos got in. Washington is the only city in the world where people go to an inauguration on the subway in black tie and ball gowns,” Mary observed.

How the pair came to be in DC was the result of a lucky sequence of events. The family made trips to the capitol over the years and hadn’t visited in a while. Months ago, Mary considered booking a trip, and an email alert touting $49 flights sealed the deal. Some time went by and she started to look at hotel websites. Finding rooms for $900 a night, she thought there was a software glitch. When she next looked and saw rates increased to $1000 a night, she remembered it was the inauguration weekend.

To tour certain landmarks in Washington, one sometimes needs a Congressional green light, so Mary next visited Senator Charles Schumer’s website, figuring they would try to visit a site away from the crowds. Instead, she and Andrew discovered that Schumer, who was chairman of the congressional committee overseeing inaugural proceedings, was holding a lottery for tickets. They entered and learned they’d won in December, when they were invited to attend a press conference at Schumer’s New York office on 3rd Avenue.

“We picked up our tickets from Senator Schumer’s office on Sunday afternoon. So we got to see the Hart Senate office building. I am really thankful to him for having this lottery so that every New Yorker could have a chance to participate,” said Andrew.

The McPartlands travelled to DC on Friday. They planned to participate in the National Day of Service, and check out the service summit held on the National Mall. On Saturday night they attended the New York Society Neighbors Ball. On Monday morning they were up at 6:30 and at the first security checkpoint by 7:45 AM.

“The whole weekend flew by,” Andrew summarized. “I took great pictures and flip video to share at school . . . I can’t wait to see the DVR. My dad said he saw us on CNN during the National Service Project Day, which was on the Mall on Saturday.”

“I lived and worked in the District earlier in my career,” Mary informed. “To come back two decades later with my teenage son to watch our president get sworn in -- a truly amazing day. We are pretty patriotic Americans, so it was a “take your breath away” moment.”

kmerrill@indyeastend.com