Family scores sought-after Obama tickets
On a summer day in 2007, Andrew Robinson, 8 years old at the time, was anxious to go swimming while he stood with his mother awaiting a stump speech by a Democratic senator from Illinois who was seeking his party’s nomination for the presidency.
Barack Obama, then seeming to be an underdog for the nomination, electrified the crowd outside the Utah Olympic Park that day, drawing upward of 1,000 people in what was one of the most noteworthy political events in Park City’s modern era.
Kristen Robinson, the boy’s mother, said she wanted Andrew to be aware of politics when he grows up as she explained why she brought him.
More than a year after the campaign stop, the Robinsons, who live in Jeremy Ranch, are planning to see Obama again — this time on a much larger stage in Washington, D.C.
Mother, father and child recently received word they will get tickets to Obama’s Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony. Their seats will be in temporary stands erected for the event close to the Capitol. Another family the Robinsons are friendly with also received three tickets to the swearing-in.
"I think it’s going to be remarkable," Kristen Robinson said.
Robinson obtained the tickets from Sen. Bob Bennett’s office, about a year after she became acquainted with Bennett staffers through her work with a homework club. The day after Obama won the White House, Robinson wrote Bennett’s office for swearing-in tickets. Robinson said she and her husband voted for Obama.
"His message of hope," she said as she explained her vote for Obama. "For me, it means there will be a lot of change for the positive."
The Robinsons plan to stay with family friends in nearby Alexandria, Va. She expects the trip will cost $2,000 between plane tickets, meals and other expenses. The Robinsons are booked to leave Jan. 18 and return Jan. 23. They might attend a ball put on by MTV celebrating the inauguration.
Robinson said she wants Obama to tell the spectators Americans can be proud, the country will lead the world and the U.S. economy will recover. She said she also wants Obama to talk about improving relations with other countries.
Senators and representatives distributed the tickets to the swearing-in ceremony, and the office of Congressman Rob Bishop, who represents Summit County in Washington, said he received approximately 190 tickets. Scott Parker, Bishop’s chief of staff, said the congressman received 700 requests for tickets.
Bishop’s office gave some of them to elected officials, members of the military and activists. Some of the tickets were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and other people were randomly selected to receive tickets, he said.
"At least a handful" of the swearing-in tickets distributed to Bishop were given to people from Summit County, Parker said.
A spokesperson for Sen. Orrin Hatch indicated the senator’s office had received several thousand requests for the 368 swearing-in tickets allocated to Hatch. They had not been distributed by late December.
Information from Bennett’s office was not immediately available.
Obama enjoys widespread popularity in Summit County; people in the Park City area are especially fond of him and he had a well organized group of supporters locally. On Election Day, Obama won Summit County with 56 percent of the vote to John McCain’s 41 percent. McCain, though, won the statewide vote.
When Obama spoke outside the Olympic Park, Andrew Robinson said he was there because his parents brought him. He said at the time he was under the impression that Obama "runs the country." His mother said she anticipates Obama’s remarks in Washington will make a stronger impression.
"I think we’ll never forget it," she said. "For one, it’s historic."
The Park City Police Department continues to investigate a series of vehicle burglaries in the overnight hours between Monday and Tuesday, indicating most of the cases were on the same street in Old Town.