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County bracing for Inauguration visitors

Category: RV, Inauguration
Source: Montgomery County Sentinel, MD
Publish Date: Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Summary: Many of the visitors will be coming in RVs and some will stay in tents

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By Nancy Royden

Sentinel Staff Writer

Donna Robinson of Anniston, Ala. said she can't wait to get to Washington, D.C. to be part of the events surrounding the Jan. 20 inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States.

The trip will mean traveling approximately 740 miles to get to the District, but for Robinson and those with her, they will travel with many amenities in a large recreational vehicle. They plan to park the RV in the Cherry Hill Park in College Park.

"We're departing on the 16th of January," Robinson said during a telephone interview. "We're leaving early because the children are going on a Capitol tour the morning of the 17th."

In addition to attending the inauguration, Robinson said the group also plans to go to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. events slated Jan. 19.

For Robinson, the inauguration of Obama is the highlight because she became a supporter of Obama as she learned more about him while he was a presidential candidate. She also became a campaign volunteer.

"I believed that he would win," explaining that if this happened, she was determined to go to the place he and his family will call home, the White House.

Robinson said Obama has similarities to Joshua in the Bible.

"To me, Barack is like Joshua. He is something for everybody, if you look at his story," she said. "My goal is to get my kids to Washington, D.C. for the experience, to learn about what is the significance of why we have a president. I don't care about the hoopla."

Already, the employees at Cherry Hill Park in Prince George's County have been preparing for an unusually large number of winter visitors to the full-service park on Cherry Hill Road.

One of the first things visitors to the center will notice is a plethora of Barack Obama-related merchandise. Glasses, bracelets, buttons emblazoned with his image, magnets, T-shirts and other things are displayed near the entrance of the office and camp store.

Long before Obama ran for office, there were Washington, D.C. souvenirs for sale in the store, park owner Mike Guervich said.

However, the day after the presidential election in November, Guervich said the store manager went to Tennessee to purchase Obama items.

Guervich's family has owned the park for 20 years, and the No. 83 bus makes its regular rounds into the RV park to pick up riders who want to go to D.C., but with the expected influx of visitors, there will be supplemental bus service.

"People just want to be there when it happens," he said about the inauguration. "They want to be part of the action, part of history."

Guervich said he expects that many of the people who stay in the RV park will also venture to the Lincoln Memorial, museums, the zoo, and the post-inauguration parade.

He said his staff is ready for the surge in patrons which is expected to start this Friday, Jan. 16. If the weather is bad, he said some of the patrons may arrive even earlier to the park.

"We're selling Washington, D.C. This could be the biggest event in Washington, D.C. in terms of numbers of people and certainly the security," Guervich said. "There probably isn't a city in America that wouldn't like to have this event to help their economy."

Many of the visitors will be coming in RVs and some will stay in tents. Guervich said the clubhouse will be open to guests should the heaters in their temporary homes fail.

Fran Connors, spokesman for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, said the RV Robinson and her throng are coming to the District in is 42-feet long and costs $2,000 for eight days.

"With cooking and sleeping facilities onboard, the RV is a bargain compared to the lofty price of a hotel room or renting rooms in private homes in the Washington, D.C. area," he said.

Robinson said the trip to the District is definitely much anticipated because she and others sold all types of Obama memorabilia to raise money to pay for the trip to Washington, D.C. Plus, she and her family suffered a devastating flood in their house Dec. 26, 2006 and still haven't recovered from it financially.

"The history books will change. This is really big. It's a significant, emotional event," she said.

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