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2nd Prd 13:56

Local fans go to D.C. for Obama

In 2009, Barack Obama supporter Linda Broadford of Weymouth attended the inauguration festivities in Washington, making the trek in a van with eight other activists from Massachusetts. After campaigning for the president’s reelection last year, she expects to be in the audience for the swearing-in ceremony on Monday.

“I’m going with one other person and we’ll connect with another person when we get there,” said Broadford, a member of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee. “There will be three of us in one hotel room. I’m so happy Obama was reelected. I take so much pride in his reelection. I want to be part of it.”

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Political activists and Obama supporters from the south suburbs are headed to the capital this weekend, although not in the numbers of four years ago. For Obama’s first inauguration, approximately 1.8 million visitors jammed the city, while this year about half as many are expected, according to estimates from Washington-area transportation officials.

Members of Congress distribute tickets to Monday’s swearing-in ceremony. Offices of the congressmen who represent the south suburbs reported that while the excitement seems to be lower than it was four years ago, demand for tickets has still been strong. “We’ve had many more requests than we can handle,” said Ninth District US Representative William R. Keating of Bourne. 

The massive crowds of January 2009 came to see the swearing-in of America’s first African-American president. The ceremony took place in bitter cold, and the harsh conditions, combined with gridlock across the city, made for a challenging experience for many who came to witness the event. “Many of the people I got tickets for couldn’t get in,” said Seventh District US Representative Michael E. Capuano of Somerville. “It was so cold. Hopefully, we’ll have better weather this time. Fifty degrees would be nice.”

This year, the overall celebration has been scaled back. There will be only two official inaugural balls, the fewest in many years. The traditional inaugural parade also will take place, and a concert honoring military families is scheduled. Some Democratic organizations and activist groups will host parties. For many of the party faithful, the inauguration of a Democratic president is not to be missed.

Philip W. Johnston of Marshfield, former Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman and a longtime Democratic activist, attended both of Bill Clinton’s inaugurations and Obama’s four years ago. He is going again this year.

“I’m a big history buff in addition to being a big Obama supporter,” Johnston said. “It’s just a great time to enjoy the history and the pageantry and to see old friends.”

Johnston is a former state representative and state secretary of human services who served as New England regional health and human services administrator under President Clinton. He was an important organizer and fund-raiser for Obama in 2008 and 2012. He said the trying conditions of 2009 would influence his approach to events Monday.

“I had good tickets four years ago. They were up close,” Johnston said. “But it was so cold. I was stamping my feet for four hours trying to keep warm, and once you were seated, you couldn’t leave. If it isn’t better weather, I’ll be watching from my hotel room.”

Jeffrey M. Graeber of Quincy plans to attend the inauguration ceremony with his wife and another couple from Quincy. They will stay with friends who live in Washington.

“Four years ago, we went down for the weekend and went to some of the pre-inaugural activities but not the actual event,” said Graeber, an attorney. “We’re not real active in politics. We’re supporters who decided it was just as important to go down this year as it was four years ago. It was a historic moment then, and I think it’s important that the progress continues.”

Pembroke High senior Charlie Meyer, 17, and his girlfriend, Rachel Teevens, 18, also a senior at Pembroke High, will attend the inauguration. They will take a bus to Washington, where Teevens’s sister lives.

Meyer was a campaign aide to Democrat Josh Cutler of Duxbury, who won an open state House of Representatives seat last year. Meyer also campaigned for Obama and Elizabeth Warren, who defeated Republican Scott Brown for US senator. Teevens helped with the Democratic get-out-the-vote effort on Election Day.

This will be their first trip to an inauguration. “I’ve always been a big Obama fan,” said Meyer. “I’ve got an Obama bumper sticker and an Obama lanyard. I helped get out the vote on Election Day. I grew up with Bush as president for my whole childhood.”

Robert Preer can be reached at preer@globe.com.
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