published Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Chattanoogans set out for inauguration

by Matt Wilson

Chattanooga resident Erik Gray didn’t have many words as he set out from his Washington hotel room this morning for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

“Today, we witness history,” he said. “We are headed to the Metro to join a million or so friends.”

Annie Hall, also of Chattanooga, was wowed by the size of the crowd — and the early hour that they started to make their way to the National Mall.

“Our apartment is at 7th and D Streets, a block from one of the security checkpoints,” she wrote in an e-mail. “People started streaming down the street at 5 am. Must be 10,000 to 20,000 people waitingfor the gate to open, chanting Obama, singing, cheering as helicopters fly overhead. Excited, anticipating, happy. Like nothing I've ever imagined. We're headed up to the Hill at 7, knowing we'll probably encounter a similar scene at the security checkpoint for those of use lucky enough to have tickets.”

Times Free Press employee Nate Gayle said it took him from 5 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. to go eight miles, and that this morning was “blistering cold.”

Mr. Gayle said everyone at the National Mall — protestors and Obama supporters alike — were getting along and being polite, despite the cold.

“It seems very Southern right now,” he said.

For more, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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