Obama to link low-cost 'neighbourhood' inaugurations

18th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Obama's team said the event was an unprecedented break with tradition as past parties have usually only catered to a powerful, wealthy elite.

Washington -- President-elect Barack Obama said on Monday he plans to hold a "neighbourhood ball" as part of his inauguration celebration this month, offering cheap tickets to residents in the US capital and linking the party to others around the country.

Obama's team said the event was an unprecedented break with tradition as past parties have usually only catered to a powerful, wealthy elite.

"This is an inauguration for all Americans," Obama said in a statement. "I wanted to make sure that we had an event that would be open to our new neighbourhood here in Washington DC, and also neighbourhoods across the country."

Organizers are expecting record crowds to descend on Washington for the January 20 inauguration, with estimates of up to two million on the streets for a parade and outdoor swearing-in ceremony.

Obama's transition office said the neighbourhood ball was in keeping with the president-elect's promise to keep the inauguration open to everyone.

"With tickets available free or at an affordable price, it is the first official inaugural ball of its kind to be held during a presidential inauguration," Obama's transition office said.

"A portion of tickets for this event will be set aside for District of Columbia residents," it said of Obama's new neighbours.

"The ball will also feature a robust interactive component, including webcasting and text messaging, to link neighbourhoods across the country with the new president and this premier event."

The ball is one of several official events planned, including an inaugural party set aside only for military families.

As part of his pledge to purge US politics of influence peddling, Obama has ordered that the names of all inauguration donors, withheld by previous presidents, be published on the Internet.

The inauguration organizing committee says Obama's swearing-in ceremony and the balls and other events that will take place around it will be funded by individuals, not by lobbyists, corporations, political action committees or labour unions, as has been the case for past inaugurations.

Hollywood stars and filmmakers, including Halle Berry and Steven Spielberg, and bosses of high-tech giants such as Google and Microsoft are opening their wallets to help fund the inauguration party, according to the donor list.

Donors reportedly have given 21 million dollars to defray the costs of the inauguration.

The organizing committee has also offered to give away ten tickets for coveted seats at the swearing-in ceremony outside the Capitol building to winners of an essay contest about the meaning of the inauguration.

AFP/Expatica

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