Crowds Diversify Inauguration
Crowds Diversify Inauguration
Jan. 20, 2001
WASHINGTON (AP) _ ``Congratulations,'' said the chief justice as President Bush concluded his oath. Tommy Merritt was a little more Texas. ``Ya-hoo!'' he bellowed.
``We made it!'' Madison Mauze yelled back, their hands meeting in a very-high five.
Merritt, who represents Longview in the Texas Legislature, said, ``We were denied the celebration on November the 7th. This is the celebration.''
People were all over this capital city Saturday, celebrating and protesting and merchandising, dressed in rain jackets and baseball caps, mink coats and cowboy hats.
They moved as one, sometimes united more closely than most would have liked. The crowds made their way through one bottleneck after the next, around barricades and fences, through metal detectors and ticket checkers.
Rose- and green-colored ticket-holders were shuttled into one set of gates; those with gray or blue tickets were sent down the block. Most weren't quite sure where they would end up.
``We must have a good spot,'' exulted Taylor Gill, 23, of Woodbridge, Va., as he noticed that Republican operative Ralph Reed was maneuvering his way through the same gate.
Heywood and Charlotte Coleman of Charleston, S.C., were on the subway, on their way to the swearing-in. But first they had to stop and pick up their tickets at a Senate office building. Jenson Young overheard them and offered a pair on the spot.
``I was going to give them as mementos,'' said Young, a Louisianan. But he figured saving the Colemans some time was more important. The strangers then bonded over their common Southern heritage.
``Everybody's so friendly. Isn't this fun?'' Mrs. Coleman said.
For some, Saturday meant political triumph. For James Patrick Leith, it was good for a few hundred bucks.
Leith still had a couple hundred Bush masks left from the Republican National Convention last summer, and while he would have preferred someone else as president, he saw things this way: ``Bush won and we're back in business!''
On the mask's handle was a sticker commemorating the convention; now there's a second sticker commemorating the inauguration.
And Leith was trying to appeal to a bipartisan clientele. ``We brought a black pen in case people want to mark it up.''
Jeannie Fain, an enthusiastic Bush backer from Dallas, bought three masks for $5. A few minutes later, she returned to buy three more. Leith warned her that they were going fast. ``OK,'' she said, ``give me three more.''
``They're cool!'' she said, and off she went, nine Bush masks in hand.
Sprinkled throughout the scene were those who wanted a different president.
Lynnette Farhadian's protest took the form of two Al Gore presidential buttons pinned to her coat.
``I think I made a statement without saying a word,'' said the 25-year-old congressional staffer. ``Some people smiled, some people snickered. Other people whispered about me.''
Her real goal was to simply witness history. She loved the music. The speech, well ... ``I didn't really feel moved by his speech _ and I'm not just saying that.''
Amid the celebrations, the Bush backers had a few of their own protests. When Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's arrival was announced, a chorus of boos rang out from the back of the crowd. And when a Marine chopper whisked former President Clinton away, the crowd cheered.