Don Samuelson spent most of the morning on Inauguration Day walking in a mass of humanity and standing in line but the chance to see President Barack Obama sworn into office was worth it.
"You've never seen anything like this in your life," the longtime DFL state legislator said moments after the inauguration ceremonies concluded.
The 76-year-old Brainerd resident said that even though he had tickets, he stood in line for three hours. He wasn't upset with his predicament, he noted, because he saw that "Jesse Jackson was behind us in line."
Even though it was wall-to-wall people, the crowd was in good humor and was remarkably orderly, Samuelson said. He said there was a lot of singing and chanting as people waited to get to their designated spots.
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"Well, you didn't want to fall down, I'll tell you," he said. "I've never seen, with a massive crowd like this - nobody was angry."
Samuelson's day started at about 3 a.m. He and his son, Steve Samuelson of Milaca, took a bus and got as close as they could. They walked and waited in line from about 6 a.m. (Eastern time) until right up to the start of the ceremony at about 11:30 a.m.
Steve Samuelson said he attended a Bicentennial celebration in New York City at the Statue of Liberty that was said to have been 2 million people and he said this crowd seemed to be twice the size of that one.
The younger Samuelson, who grew up in Brainerd, said that as a speaker, Obama seemed to be a combination of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and Sen. Paul Wellstone. Don Samuelson also appreciated Obama's speech.
"The speech was much like his campaign speeches," Don Samuelson said. "People here have so much hope and so much of a feeling that we can turn this thing around."
While he talked with a couple from Kansas who said they were moderate Republicans, most of the crowd were not big fans of outgoing President George W. Bush. Samuelson said there was silence when Obama praised Bush and cheers when the crowd saw a helicopter flying Bush away from the White House.
MIKE O'ROURKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5860.
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