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Inaugural trip big hit with locals

Roseville, Granite Bay residents share their D.C. experience
By: Bridget Jones Special to The Press-Tribune
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Last week’s presidential inauguration ceremony was very close to home. Several local residents took trips to Washington, D.C. to see and experience President Obama taking the oath of office. Jacob Priley, 15, a freshman at Roseville High School, was nominated to attend a leadership conference that would also allow him to see the ceremony. He and his fellow Roseville High student, Shelby Harrison, 14, held fundraisers for 10 months to pay for the trip. Priley said he was overjoyed when he learned he would be attending the event. “I was just ecstatic,” Priley said. “Whoever thought I would be able to go to an inauguration. At that time I wasn’t sure if Obama or McCain was going to be elected, but I was just amazed that I’d be able to witness history either way.” Harrison said it was an amazing feeling to be included in the experience. “I was really excited, and I thought it was a good opportunity,” she said. “I felt really lucky that I was able to do this. First of all, it’s one of those once in a lifetime chances, and it was kind of life changing because Barack Obama was elected, and he’s already making history and I got to be a part of that.” Carrie Zanetti, a fifth-grade teacher at Cobblestone Elementary School in Rocklin, said the inauguration was something she and her husband just had to see, and she was glad to be able to help her students experience the event through a blog she kept during the trip. “I didn’t have tickets,” Zanetti said. “My husband and I decided we were going to go back and see it because it was historic. So we just went for it. To share it with my class, that was huge. If I had the opportunity to go, I was going to make sure they could share it.” Corey Weinberg, a Granite Bay resident currently enrolled at San Diego State University, made the trip with several fellow students and one of his political science professors. “I thought it was a once in a lifetime thing,” Weinberg said. “I’m a political science major, so all this stuff is really interesting to me.” Priley said one of the most memorable parts of the ceremony was the feeling of unity in the crowd around him. “It was just a sense of being one nation,” Priley said. “We weren’t separated. We just felt like one, being able to watch history right there, right in front of us. It was just a very pleasant and excited atmosphere.” Once the ceremony began, it was impossible for the crowd to look away, said Zanetti. “It was just so moving,” she said. “We were captivated. We were watching the big overhead TV screen, and you couldn’t take your eyes off the moment really. It was historic. It was super powerful.” Weinberg said the crowd’s reaction was intense when it caught its first glimpse of soon-to-be-President Obama. “Once he came out the crowd was hysterical,” Weinberg said. “They were screaming, chanting, ‘Obama’ and, ‘Yes we can!’ It was interesting. I’ve never seen a crowd react like that before. I’ve been to plenty of sporting events in my life…and I’ve never seen a crowd react so intensely over one person.” Harrison said the first few minutes of Obama’s inaugural address had a huge impact on her and the crowd. “My favorite part was probably when he first started giving his speech,” Harrison said. “You could tell he was really happy, and everyone was really happy. It hit me that it was such a cool thing to be there, and our new president was finally elected. It was awesome.” Zanetti said she was overjoyed that even though it was bitterly cold, and everyone was crowded together, people from all over the world were interacting for the event. “It was just incredibly peaceful and happy, and it was such a diverse crowd,” she said. “We met people from Australia and Ireland and Germany, as well as from all over the United States. It was a very international occasion.” Weinberg said the ceremony had special meaning to him, because he was so used to another man being his president. “I thought it was interesting to be there, because I thought of Bush as my president,” Weinberg said. “Being 20 years old, eight years ago I was only 12, and I didn’t really follow politics. So seeing a different person up there being sworn in, it was definitely a change.” Priley said another part of the experience he enjoyed was the fact that all the celebrities in attendance seemed like average people that day. “It made me feel like it connected them with us,” he said. “They weren’t above us as celebrities, or past presidents or politicians. They were just there to see the inauguration.” Those who live in the United States can take away a very important lesson from this inauguration, Harrison said. “I think everybody should know that it’s possible for all our country to come together,” she said. “There were no bad incidents. I didn’t see any fights or anyone getting arrested. It was just amazing that everybody wanted the best for our country, and we all knew that Obama could help us do that.”