Local students busing to inauguration without tickets

A recent pre-inauguration student field trip meeting at Carlisle High School covered everything but an assurance that all going will have tickets to the Washington, D.C., ceremony. Regardless, the students — which include high school seniors from Madison, Butler Tech and Miamisburg — are busing off Wednesday for their four-day trip to the nation’s capital. MICHAEL D. CLARK/STAFF
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A recent pre-inauguration student field trip meeting at Carlisle High School covered everything but an assurance that all going will have tickets to the Washington, D.C., ceremony. Regardless, the students — which include high school seniors from Madison, Butler Tech and Miamisburg — are busing off Wednesday for their four-day trip to the nation’s capital. MICHAEL D. CLARK/STAFF

Local Congressional office staffers said interest in this year’s inauguration is high, leaving a low number of available tickets.

Area teens will soon be busing to the nation’s capital to witness America’s historical presidential inauguration, but their journey is also a leap of faith because most don’t have tickets for the ceremony.

Still, the Butler and Warren County high school seniors — and school officials — from Madison High School, Butler Tech, Miamisburg and Carlisle high schools will hit the road at dawn Wednesday for the 500-mile bus trip to Washington, D.C.

As it stood Tuesday, only 18 of the 43 traveling will do so with tickets lined up.

“I hope it’ll work out,” said A.J. Huff, spokeswoman for Madison Schools.

The ticket problems is a first for Huff and the other area school officials, who have made this student field trip for the swearing-in of America’s president since 2001.

As they have in the past, school officials planning the trip reached out to area Congressional representatives well before Wednesday’s departure, but Congressional office staffers said interest in this year’s inauguration is high, leaving a low number of available tickets.

Estimates for Friday crowds at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration range near 1 million.

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Huff remains confident the 33 students and 10 teachers and adult chaperons will eventually obtain the 25 tickets still needed to be among the large audience Friday.

Trump's controversial campaign, surprise win and the recent contentiousness caused by dozens of Democratic Congressional representatives announcing they are refusing to attend the swearing in as well as planned protests has heightened interest in the inauguration, according to Capitol Hill staffers.

“Obviously there is a lot of demand,” said Alexei Woltornist, communication director for Republican Congressman Warren Davidson (R-Troy), who now holds the seat previously held by long-time U.S. Rep. John Boehner (R-West Chester Twp.).

“We work on a first come, first-served basis,” said Woltornist, whose office has handed out all of its 177 tickets allotted but are now scrambling on the behalf of the local students to fetch another 25 passes.

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Staffers of Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said his office distributed tickets via a lottery system, which closed Dec. 18. There is currently a wait list and staffers said they will gladly add requests from any Ohioans who missed the deadline.

Emily Benavides, press secretary for Ohio U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, said “there is an incredible demand for tickets to the inauguration and we are accommodating as many Ohioans as we can. It’s wonderful that so many Ohioans, especially high school students, are coming to witness the hallmark of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power.”

Huff said past inauguration student trips have featured plenty of tickets available on-site from individuals who decide at the last minute they’d rather not deal with the crowds, long security lines and hours of standing football fields away from the presidential ceremony.

Moreover, she is optimistic that when the adult chaperons stop in Congressional offices Thursday to pick up their reserved tickets that other passes may then be available.

Finally, Huff has a notion she’d like to share with the 40 Congressional Democrats from around the nation who have so far announced they are boycotting Trump’s inauguration: “They can pass on their tickets to the poor high school kids who have already paid for their inauguration trip.”

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