Some Inauguration Visitors Feel Misled

Students say they expected more for their money.

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Not all Inauguration visitors have been happy with their treatment here.

Caitlin Armstrong, an 18-year-old sophomore at Auburn University, came to Washington, DC expecting to see President Obama and Beyonce, one of the scheduled performers. She had received a letter earlier this year congratulating her on being “accepted to be among the thousands of students” to “witness first-hand the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.”

The letter left her with the impression that she would have tickets to the Inauguration and be invited to one of the official Inaugural Balls. The event’s website specified that the schedule included the official swearing-in ceremony.

For the privilege of attending, she paid a couple thousand dollars to travel from Alabama and stay for four nights in the Marriot Wardman Park hotel in Northwest Washington.

But when she arrived, she was disappointed to discover that she had no special tickets and would have to navigate the National Mall along with the 2 million other visitors. As for the ball, tonight she will be attending one along with thousands of other college students, but since it’s not one of the official ones, there will be no Beyonce, nor Obama.

While the organizers did arrange for her and her fellow students to attend lectures by former Vice President Al Gore and Luke Russert, she feels misled by false advertising. “I told everyone I would be going to the inauguration and the inaugural ball,” she says. (Phone calls and E-mails to the organizers, the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, have not yet been returned.)

As of last night, students in the lobby of the Marriot Wardman Park hotel were organizing a petition to complain about their treatment.