Inauguration 2013: Idahoans Journey to D.C. to Watch History Repeat Itself

"I don't know where I'll be in four years or if I'll ever have a chance to just drop what I'm doing and go to the inauguration again so I figured I might as well take the chance."

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In addition to the group of nearly 30 firefighters who will march in the Inaugural Parade as part of the 57th Presidential Inauguration ceremony on Monday, Jan. 21, a number of Idahoans have traveled to the nation's capital to witness the celebration.

And some of them will have a pretty decent view thanks to the Idaho Congressional delegation. Each state's congressional offices are given tickets to inaugurations to disperse to the pubic, and this year, the Idaho delegation pooled their tickets and gave them away through Sen. Mike Crapo's office.

Among those who were awarded tickets to President Barack Obama's second inauguration were a pair of longtime Idaho Falls friends who are currently students at Brigham Young University.

Conor Hilton traveled to Washington, D.C., with his BYU roommate and childhood friend Dylan Ellsworth for the inauguration after receiving tickets from Crapo's office.

"I'm a Democrat and I campaigned for Obama a little bit. I canvassed some in Colorado and during this past election, and I really enjoyed that experience and figured that it would be exciting to be actually present at the inauguration to see the culmination of all the efforts that I and other people who worked on the campaign put in," said Hilton, a sophomore at BYU who is studying English and political science. "And I don't know where I'll be in four years or if I'll ever have a chance to just drop what I'm doing and go to the inauguration again so I figured I might as well take the chance."

In addition to attending the inaugural ceremonies, Hilton and Ellsworth, who is a junior studying public relations, have tickets to the inaugural ball.

Hilton, who turned 18 just days after the 2008 presidential election, voted for Obama in 2012 and said he'd like to see immigration reform as a high priority on the president's to-do list.

"I woud like to see that pursued more fully and more extensively, ideally with bipartisan support but we'll see," said Hilton.

Greg Simione, a Garden Valley resident who is attending the inauguration with his business partner Gerold Dennett, also cites immigration as something he'd like to see Obama tackle in the next four years.

"We're not so affected by immigration—our employee base—but Idaho just has a population that I think would be helped by passing immigration reform," said Simione.

Simione and Dennett own several small businesses in Crouch, which is about an hour north of Boise, including the Garden Valley Market, the Chevron, the former Crouch Merc (which is now a small coffee shop and craft market), and the Longhorn bar. As small-business owners, Simione and Dennett are also watching health care closely.

"Being a small-business owner, health care is killing us," said Simione. "Or should I say lack of? We are priced out of the market. We are unable to offer it to our employees, so I'm really looking forward to [Obama] pinning that down so that it's affordable. And it looks like [Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter] is going to put some good faith into creating a state exchange program, and I think that can help our employees."

Simione, who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, said the idea of the two of them attending the inauguration first came up on election night, when it was clear that Obama would win re-election.

According to Simione, Dennett turned to him and said, "'You know, this is kind of historic. I would love to go to the inauguration if we can go.' And having grown up there, I was like, 'No, you can't go to the inauguration. You have to go stand in line, see the parade, but that's about all you can do.'" But Simione went to Crapo's website and answered the same short questionnaire as Hilton to apply for tickets.

"We both just like tradition and ceremony and no matter who's being sworn in, it's historic and it's part of our culture, as an American. You know, every four years is this ceremony and having grown up there and been kind of close to it but not ever really getting the opportunity to participate in something like that, we just took the chance to apply and we got it. So we're real excited."

Thousands milled around the National Mall on Sunday as final preparations were made for Mondays Inauguration. Much of the crowd, which is expected to number near 1 million, will watch the ceremony on giant TV screens.
  • Rachael Daigle
  • Thousands milled around the National Mall on Sunday as final preparations were made for Monday's Inauguration. Much of the crowd, which is expected to number near 1 million, will watch the ceremony on giant TV screens.

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