PARIS – What do you pack for a trip to Washington, D.C., to see the first African-American president sworn into office?

“They say you have to pack your patience,” said Sarah Shepley of Paris, who along with her 15-year-old daughter Beryl will attend the swearing-in ceremonies Tuesday, Jan. 20.

“I had written and called Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud’s office. I didn’t think I was obnoxious but I put the word out,” said Shepley, who was on the waiting list with her daughter for tickets to the coveted swearing-in ceremony Tuesday at noon.

The wait was over Wednesday morning when she received an unexpected call from Michaud’s office that she and her daughter would have tickets.

“I’m so grateful,” said Shepley of her silver-coded tickets, which get them to the back of the crowd but in sight of the historic ceremony that will be attended by 230,000 ticketed people from across the nation.

On Monday, she and Beryl will pull into Union Station in Washington at 4 p.m. She has been told the tickets must be picked up in Michaud’s Washington office by 5 p.m.

Shepley’s trip to Washington, D.C., was not something she had planned, but when her daughter’s birthday approached in December and knowing how passionate her daughter was about politics and Obama she thought, “I wanted to surprise her with tickets to the inauguration.”

Her daughter couldn’t be happier.

“I’m a giant Obama supporter,” said Beryl, who not only helped spearhead a presidential mock election at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School where she is a freshman this year, but spent hours volunteering with the Oxford County Democratic Committee, canvassing, doing phone work and other tasks prior to the election. On Election Day in November, she took the day off from school to carry water to poll workers.

“We need a change,” she said. “I support Obama’s policies. He’s president of the entire county, not just the Democratic party.”

Beryl said most of her friends are politically active, but there are many young people who are not. “A lot of kids I know don’t really care. It’s their future. The worst thing they can do is not be interested at all.”

The Shepleys won’t be the only Oxford Hills residents in Washington for the inauguration.

Henry and Patricia Stewart of Greenwood left Wednesday afternoon, carrying not only tickets to the swearing-in ceremony but some for the Eastern Ball, one of five regional inauguration balls that will take place Tuesday evening.

“Congressman Michaud got us tickets for reserved standing at the swearing in,” said Henry Stewart. “That’s the hardest ticket to get.”

“We got shut out of the parade tickets. They put 5,000 (tickets) on the Internet and they were gone in a minute,” Stewart said. “We’re two for three. We’re very happy about that.”


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