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With inauguration one week away, early arrivals begin to pack D.C.

Category: RV, Inauguration
Source: Washington Examiner
Publish Date: Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Summary: Donna Robinson is on her way to Washington from Anniston, Ala., with 15 friends and relatives packed into a rented recreational vehicle, fulfilling a promise she made to herself during the presidential campaign.

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By Leah Fabel, Bill Myers
Examiner Staff Writers 1/13/09

Donna Robinson is on her way to Washington from Anniston, Ala., with 15 friends and relatives packed into a rented recreational vehicle, fulfilling a promise she made to herself during the presidential campaign.

“I said, ‘If Barack wins, we’re going to Washington,’ ” she told The Examiner in a phone interview. “I want [my] boys to learn. Look how Barack walks. Look at the way he speaks. Look at the way he carries himself. He doesn’t let his pants droop.”

Robinson, 43, will be among millions coming to the nation’s capital to see the first African-American take the oath of office as president of the United States.

New York college student Mikhail Yusupov, a criminal justice major, arrived in D.C. on Saturday to join more than 700 students taking part in a class about the inauguration through the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. A former citizen of the Soviet Union, Yusupov and his family fled persecution there and came to the United States. He said he simply couldn’t miss the ceremony.

“This experience is increasing my connection to the United States,” he said.

Cherry Hill camping ground in College Park is full in January for the first time in its history, owner Mike Gurevich said.

“It’s never been like this,” Gurevich said. His family has owned the campground for generations. “It’s great. A little more stressful, but great.”

Hotels and youth hostels have been booked for months, Amtrak and commuter trains have required passengers to reserve tickets to D.C. in advance (and have sold out), and residents are renting their homes for up to $3,000 for the week.

EBay and Craigslist have become hives for airline ticket “scalpers,” some of whom are offering seats for up to $22,000 a pop.

“The major airports are beefing up their staffs as if it’s a holiday,” said Mike Benjamin, chief executive officer of FlightView, a travel information service. “It’s going to be like Thanksgiving Day.”

By the second week in November, Cherry Hill — where Robinson and her entourage will stay — had a waiting list of 80 names, Gurevich said.

“It was crazy,” he said. “It was like this panic set in.”

New York professor John Kares Smith is beginning to feel a mild panic, too.

“The students know what they’re doing,” he said. “Some of the rest of us who aren’t used to Metro are having more trouble.

“I may collapse in my hotel room on Inauguration Day,” he added.

Robinson’s trip has been stressful, too, but she said she’s keeping her eyes on the prize.  “I have a spiritual father — that’s Jesus,” Robinson said. “I have an Earth man — that’s Barack. I’m sure when we get to Washington, D.C., God will bless us.”


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