WASHINGTON, D.C. — Locals who trekked to the nation’s capitol to witness President Barack Obama’s formal inauguration on Monday were exhausted but pleased with the experience.
“We’ve been walking all day,” said Leslie Rigali, of Lima, who made the trip with two of her sisters. “It’s incredibly inspirational. You look around the crowd, and you remember that you’re not the only person on the planet. You are part of a country that is made up of so many different people.”
Her sister, Caron, who lives in Florida, had requested inauguration tickets from her state representative. When she received them, she offered a ticket to Rigali and to her sister Mary Rigali, who lives in St. Marys.
“We figured everyone should see at least one inauguration in their life. We wanted to be part of it,” Leslie Rigali said.
She was pleasantly surprised with how nice people were there, despite there being a least a half million tourists in the city.
“Everywhere where we have been in the city, everyone has been so kind and patient… Everybody is just kind of watching out for each other, and it really has been a wonderful experience,” she said.
It was also Spencer Williams’ first time at a presidential inauguration.
“People were excited to see the sea of American flags, the excitement,” said Williams, 19, of Alger. “I know I’ll always remember this day, but the uniqueness of Martin Luther King Day and the inauguration makes it a little bit more special.”
Williams, who was recently elected to the Upper Scioto Valley school board, made the trip with his father, Charles. They received tickets for the inauguration through Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office. He and his father got the opportunity to meet Brown and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland at a separate event there.
“It’s a chaotic place. Security is very tight, but it’s very exciting,” Williams added.
Several people noted the diversity of the event, racially, culturally and nationally.
“It’s beautiful,” said Josiah Mathews, 30, of Lima. “People are from everywhere. I’m actually staying in a hostel, and there’s people there from Australia and London and Africa and Saudi Arabia. I mean, people are coming from everywhere to celebrate.”
Mathews spent the past week in Washington, D.C., as a member of the selective Presidential Inaugural Committee with various events throughout the week leading up to the inauguration. He also worked an information table at the Presidential Inaugural Ball on Monday night. It was his first time he had been in the capital for a presidential inauguration. He also saw people such as Stevie Wonder and John Legend during his stay.
Twelve-year-old Cassidi Lhamon also noted how much diversity there was and how unexpected that was for her. She went to D.C. with her family, including her parents, Rob and Christina Lhamon, her little brother Cameron, 9, and her friend Isabella Snyder, also 12.
Rigali said even the inauguration parade had a lot of diversity within it.
“So many different states are represented,” she said, “not only that, but the cultures. Native American Indians or some of the Hispanic folkloric dancers… some of the cultures represented within those states. That was really interesting."