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Monday, July 21, 2008

Inauguration tix selling fast in Illinois

by Jim Tankersley

Like Cubs or White Sox fans booking their World Series seats at the All-Star Break, Illinois residents are snapping up tickets to celebrate Barack Obama's potential inauguration in Washington next year.

Never mind that native-son Obama is running barely ahead or statistically tied with Republican John McCain in recent polls. The Illinois State Society of Washington, D.C., reports that corporate and individual interest in its traditional, bi-partisan inaugural gala is "running far ahead of previous years" some six months before the next president takes office.

The Society has held inaugural celebrations dating back to 1861, when another local boy, Abraham Lincoln, entered the White House. In recent decades, the Society reports, its parties have been second only to Texas (where, to be fair, everything is bigger) among state-society festivities in D.C.

This year, the Illinois folks opened ticket sales early, anticipating an Obama-inspired surge. Read on for the full details from the press release. No word on whether tickets are refundable - or transferable to the Arizona state gala - if McCain wins.

Early Ticket Sales Off to a Fast Start for Jan. 19 Illinois Inaugural Gala at Renaissance Washington Hotel.

The historic Illinois State Society of Washington, DC was founded in 1854. In March 1861, the club hosted Illinoisans from the state and expatriates living in Washington when they paid a call on President Lincoln at The White House on the day of his Inauguration. The club, which currently has 700 members mostly in Washington, has held parties at Inauguration time ever since 1861 and the size of its Inaugural Gala over the last 20 years among all the state societies of Washington have been second only to the Texas State Society Black Tie and Boots party.

The Illinois Inaugural Gala is always bipartisan. Democratic Senators Barack Obama and Dick Durbin attended along with former GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert and all Illinois members of Congress from both parties at the 2005 Inaugural which drew 3,500 guests. However, there are always more guests from the state who are affiliated with the party that wins the White House. The society is coordinating with both party organizations in Illinois to offer space at the Illinois State Society headquarters hotel, The Renaissance Washington Hotel. This year, with the chance an Illinoisan might be elected president, the society has opened up ticket sales early to corporate sponsors and hundreds of individual ticket buyers for the Gala next Jan. 19. Sales are running far ahead of previous years to both corporate and individual ticket buyers according to former society president Jeanne Jacob, a native of Mendota, who has been one of the key managers for every Illinois State Society Inaugural Gala since 1989.

Ticket prices and information are found on

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