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A 4 a.m. wake-up call, long nervous wait in line — but Marquette Park’s Frazier family keeps date with history

The Frazier family visits MartLuther King Memorial Sunday Jan. 21 2013. From left: SemajFrazier 12 (purple); AsiWright 16; Bryan Jacks12;

The Frazier family visits the Martin Luther King Memorial on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2013. From left: Semaja Frazier, 12 (in purple); Asia Wright, 16; Bryan Jackson, 12; McKinley Wright, 14; and matriarch Pamela Frazier.

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Updated: February 23, 2013 6:38AM



The Chicago Sun-Times is chronicling the inauguration journey of the Frazier family of Marquette Park, in a reprisal of its 2009 “Road Trip to History” series.

WASHINGTON — All roads this past weekend have led to this — a 4 a.m. wake-up call for the Frazier family and their group of 98 bus travelers from Chicago and northwestern Indiana on Inauguration Day. They must leave their Harrisburg, Pa., hotel for Washington, D.C., at 4:45 a.m. to account for the three-hour ride and expected roadblocks and gridlock.

It would then be a three-mile walk from RFK Stadium, where passengers from a zillion chartered buses from across the nation spill a zillion passengers dressed like eskimos. The march to the National Mall begins. The Frazier grandkids stop to gawk or buy the souvenirs from vendors selling everything Obama — from buttons and T-shirts to iPhone covers and a limited edition Obama dancing bear, grooving to James Brown’s “I Feel Good.”

The ticketless crowd finally arrives at the 7th Street general admission entrance. It’s 8 a.m.

In 2009, matriarch Pamela Frazier, an ordinary middle-class American, didn’t worry about not being “connected” and not having tickets, when she took nine members of her brood to witness the inauguration of the nation’s first black president. She didn’t worry about it this time, either, when she brought four grandkids. The Fraziers squeeze into a line hundreds deep. It’s cold. The waiting begins, the line moving an inch at a time toward the gate onto the Mall.

At 10:30 a.m., the crowd is antsy, nervous they won’t be anywhere near where they will see Obama sworn in at 11:30. The Frazier grandkids have grown weary, bickering. Pamela quashes it, masking her own disappointment. “It wasn’t like this last time,” she and others in the crowd complain.

At 11 a.m., sadness sets in, then anger. There’s a rumble in the crowd, as she and others wonder why organizers would place only three entry stations at the general admission checkpoint. “This is where they should have had a bunch of workers to get people in. What were they thinking?” asks Pamela Frazier.

She keeps her chin up, though, for the grandkids, even as she tries to wrap her mind around the fact that this second inauguration journey is about to end in disaster. Organizers had predicted the crowds would be significantly smaller this time, the novelty factor faded. It was not so.

“This isn’t right,” another woman complains. She is co-signed by a growing chorus in the crowd.

Pamela Frazier sighs, looking behind her at the hordes who clearly will not see this inauguration despite traveling from far and wide.

Suddenly, an angel appears. The man announces the 5th Street entrance for ticket holders is now accepting general admission.

The Fraziers debate, give up their place in line, hike two blocks to the John Marshall Plaza.

At 11:35, five minutes into the 2013 inauguration ceremony, the Fraziers make it into the second gate, onto Pennsylvania Avenue, and scramble to a jumbotron, just in the nick of time to see Vice President Joe Biden, followed by U.S. President Barack Obama, take their oaths of office ... with a little James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce in between.



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