Colleen Lacombe-Finally Thawed Out!

January 23, 2009 - Leave a Response

Well, I’m finally thawed out and ready to report on the Inauguration!

The day didn’t, quite, go according to my plans, but it was a good experience, nonetheless. My group left from the University of Rochester at 8pm on Monday. We traveled through the night on three chartered buses and arrived in Largo, Maryland around 4am on Tuesday. Luckily, I had my own row of seats so I could sleep comfortably on our trip. At 4am the metro station was already very busy and so we didn’t wait and we went into the city right away.

We arrived in Washington, D.C. at 4:30am. When we arrived, we realized just how cold it was going to be that day. It was absolutely freezing! The wind was howling, and I believe the temperature was between 10 and 15 degrees. Imagine standing outside for 12 hours in that weather. The experience was one I wouldn’t have missed, but the weather was miserable.

After our attempts to warm up with hot cocoa, we made our way to the National Mall to take our spots for the event. From where we were standing, we had a very good view of, both, the Capital and the viewing screen. At about 7:30am, we started taking pictures, and I had trouble turning on my camera. I couldn’t understand what the problem was, since I had two sets of charged batteries to use. I wanted to try new batteries, so I split up from my group in search of a vendor who sold them. I honestly believed that I’d be able to run out and pick up batteries and then make my way back to the group. Wow, was I wrong! When I realized leaving the Mall would be a bad idea, I called another group from school to pick up the batteries. Then, we could meet and watch the event together. The group found the batteries, but never found me. We tried very hard to meet up, calling each other every few minutes for an update on where we were, but the crowds were just too thick and we couldn’t find each other. Thus, I was alone in a crowd of 2 million people, and I didn’t have a camera to document the event.

The actual Inauguration was very exciting to see! There were people around me crying and shouting and saying the occasional “Amen.” It is definitely something I will remember for a long time to come.

The event brought many different types of people- older people, younger people, and people of different ethnic groups and cultures. I didn’t expect there to be such camaraderie within the crowd. When I was trying to make my way through the mass to find my group, the people around me said they’d help me find my group if I found out exactly where they were. By that point, cell phone service was hard to find and I couldn’t get in touch with my group. A man said to stay with his group, and even though I felt alone, I really wasn’t because I had his group. They were very kind and comforting throughout the event.

After the Inauguration, I made my way back to the metro station. I spent time in Washington, D.C. over the summer and so I was familiar with the area, which proved to be very helpful. When I reached the metro station, there was a line of (I’d say) 6-8 thousand people. I waited in line for about a half hour before I spotted some other students from the University of Rochester. I was so relieved and joined them to wait in line for about 3 hours longer. We got back to Maryland safely and boarded the bus for the long ride back to Rochester.

Overall, I’m happy I went on the trip to the Inauguration. It was an experience I will not forget. On Wednesday afternoon, I saw a girl who also came on the trip and I asked her if she had a fun day in Washington, D.C. Her response was,

“Fun?! Not quite. It was freezing cold and there were more people than I’ve seen in my life and ever wish to see again. Fun isn’t the right word to use. It was memorable.”

My thoughts exactly.

Since I did not get to take pictures,  a few of the other students on the trip sent me their pictures. Here are some of my favorites…


Points of view: The day of the inauguration! Shawn

January 22, 2009 - Leave a Response

Before the inauguration, we went to museums and that was mostly it. We waited six hours at the inauguration before anything started. When Obama spoke everyone cheered it was great! By Fiona ONeil

The crowd slowly moved forward step by step. It was 8:00 am in the morning. We were up and on the metro by 5:15 am before this crowded line. All you see are people and people and more people. I close my eyes and I see faces of all ethnicity, male, female, young, and old. We all have smiles despite all being crammed into lines without physical barriers. I have the girls in front of me, my hand on their shoulders. I hoist Riley up onto my shoulders, while people allow me the room. Emily and Fiona are right in front of me. When the crowd moves and we start getting separated the people in between us allow Riley and I to squeeze past them so that we are back together again. There are several groups like this, hand to shoulder forming a chain. There is laughing and joking.
I bump into a young black man just as we get into the secured area. “Sorry!” “That’s’ okay, brother” says the black man as he slaps my shoulder in a comradeship way. Everyone in this huge crowd are brothers and sisters. It doesn’t matter how different you are. At this point in time in American history…we are all Americans we are all one. Perhaps in the near future I can walk into a foreign country and proudly proclaim, “I’m American” and not worry about being discriminated against. I didn’t witness any hostility even though we were packed in like sardines. Everyone seemed to be looking out for each other’s welfare.
Now, that it has been a full day since I had this great experience. I thought I would use that old cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words”. So, here is a little video I made of this historical event. Enjoy!

Home Again

January 22, 2009 - Leave a Response

Hey Everyone,

Well I’m home again, back to Vermont!  I’ve really enjoyed sharing this experience with everyone.  I started out not knowing exactly what to expect during the conference, but came out on the other end with one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  I got to see unforgettable speakers, who spoke inspiring words, encouraging words, and shared stories of their own success.  I met unforgettable people, who like myself, are ready to not only see the change in the world, but to help make it happen.  Finally I got to see an unforgettable event in which history was made.  A moment that will forever be frozen in time, and event I never expected to be a part, and feel blessed to have had the chance to see.  I hope everyone got the chance to in some way see this event.  I also want to thank everyone for the support and encouragement throughout the week.

Thank you everyone so much!


We Finally Caught Him! (Amy, W. Chazy, NY)

January 21, 2009 - Leave a Response

dc-1-20-09-ball-004Inauguration Day is one we will never forget. We ventured out by metro at 8am toward Capitol Hill. Luckily, we got a tip from some locals to catch the train that was going out of town because it would be empty and we could at least get on and have seats. We only had to ride it 3 stops out before turning around and heading  back in to town. The train filled COMPLETELY at the first stop.  There were thousands of people waiting to get on at each and every stop along the way…don’t know if they ever made it. What should normally take 20-30 minutes took about 2 hours, but we made it. We made our way through the crowd down to our ticketed area. The area was flooded but we were there! People were sitting in the trees just to be able to see over the crowd.dc-1-20-09-ball-003

We opted to skip the parade in order to get back on the metro ahead of the crowd. We didn’t want to miss our limo which was scheduled to pick us up at 5pm for the ball. Fortunately, everything was running behind schedule because the limo arrived about an hour late. dc-1-20-09-ball-007

After making our way through the crazy streets of DC, which were only accessible by emergency vehicles, taxis, and limos we managed to get close enough to the Washington Convention Center for the Obama Home States Ball. We got as close as we could by limo, and in an effort to arrive before the Obama’s we decided to get out and walk the rest of the way. So, in our ball gowns and high heels, we “ran” about 2 or 3 blocks and made our way to the ball.We got there in plenty of time to relax and have a drink and mingle with some of Lori’s friends.

Finally, after 4 days of chasing him, President Obama arrived and was standing on the stage right before our eyes. We could see him, hear him; it was amazing!dc-1-20-09-ball-019

The Prelude to the main event! Shawn

January 21, 2009 - Leave a Response

I just wanted to write a quick message to inform people that much more will be written about this exciting historical event. I wanted to take a day to absorb all the information, so later on today a post will be added along with a video. Like I said in the beginning of this blog this will be a family perception and I want to add a teenager’s point of view as well. A video will added as well.

20 hour day, History Made!

January 21, 2009 - 3 Responses
Ball gown!

Ball gown!

Crowd chanting "yes we can" (we all joined)

Crowd chanting "yes we can" (we all joined)

Early morning but all smiles!

Early morning but all smiles!

Beautiful sunrise on a historic day!

Beautiful sunrise on a historic day!

Al Gore speech (yesterday)

Al Gore speech (yesterday)

Well it all started this morning at 5 am. Up for breakfast and a very early bus ride into the city. However by the time we got onto the bus and into the city there was already bumper to bumper traffic. At about 8 am we finally got to our destination (yes it was about a 2 hour wait). The city was already packed with the millions of people waiting for the historic moment in time. As we walked down the street we saw dozens of vendors and you couldn’t help but feel the togetherness of the day. As I looked off a bridge we were crossing below there was a crowd bigger than I had ever seen, all chanting “yes we can” Obama’s catch phrase. Everyone on the street joined in and I couldn’t help getting a chill down my spine at the sheer volume of this chant throughout Washington D.C. The PYIC group made there way (not easily) to a hot chocolate social in which we socialized with one another and kept warm until the festivities started. We then walked out onto the national mall, and started to scope out a good spot to watch history be made. My friend Sam and I took about 2 hours to get to the spot we decided to stay at. We could see a little Joe Biden, and a little Barack Obama as they were sworn into office, and as Obama gave his historic speech to the crowd. This hour and a half had to me one of the most spectacular I have ever experienced! Weather it be the opening prayer, Aretha Franklin singing, or the powerful speech. After this we headed to Nationals Ball park to watch the Inaugural parade from the big screens, and to warm up. We also watched the unfortunate event of two senators getting ill in a luncheon that many of you heard about. We later boarded the buses to go back to the hotels to get ready for the ball. After much primping and deciding on hairstyles we emerged from our hotel room in our ball gowns and proceeded to the Smithsonian Aerospace museum for our gala ball. Enjoying the music of Chris Daughtry, we danced the night away. It was a long and incredible day which I will never forget. There are many pictures attached that I hope you all enjoy.

Thank you!


Houston – Martin Luther King Jr. Day & Attending The Inauguration I

January 21, 2009 - 2 Responses

During Martin Luther King Jr. day we hung pretty low. The times that we did go into the city we ran into to extreme crowds. Going to the ‘official Obama store’ one of the many claiming to be the Official, or Original, it was total insanity. Squishing and weaving through the crowds just to get your favorite t-shirt or memorabilia. Yes, Maia, Danielle, Rylee and Maggie I got you all t-shirts. (They are very cute!) Probably the most important thing accomplished on Martin Luther King Jr. day also known as the official service day, was clean the condo for our generous and gracious hosts.

Now, for the big event. For the whole point of this blog. The Inauguration. Waking up at six o’clock in the morning is never something any teenager is willing to do. But this morning after rousing myself out of bed, I got very excited. This was it. This was the change, the promise, the day Obama became our 44th President. Layer upon Layer (still not enough layers) we set out to join the hundreds, then the thousands, then the ten-thousands, the hundred-thousands and eventually the millions of others who also wanted to witness first hand this historical day. As the crowds grew the anticipation soared. Chanting Obama, singing songs of our country’s triumphs, sharing moments and embracing strangers you had never known we common sights. We were corralled together for a journey no one would forget. Anyone who is claustrophobic might want to skip these next few sentences. Shoving, Bumping, Grabbing, Holding, Grasping, over and over and over again. Smelling the breath of someone who had begun partying a bit early, those who didn’t have time to brush their teeth before leaving, or maybe occasionally the refreshing smell of those who had. (If you were skipping sentences READ NOW..please) Gasping for the fresh air once out of the 395 tunnel we knew we were just blocks away. Once at the mall, the sight was overwhelming and breathtaking. People of all elasticities, sexes, religions, and orientations were gathered because of one cause and one belief. Obama. As the We Are One concert re-runs were shown on the Jumbotrons many people were caught catching a few z’s, dancing to stay warm or singing and enjoying the moment. (Keep in mind, we had over three and a half hours before the ceremony was to begin.)

Thankfully, time does continue on, and just after the We Are One re-run finished, the crowd (which had grown substantially since our arrival) cheered when they saw important people flashing across the monitor, while being introduced in full detail. The crowd would cheer, wave thier flags, or boo and occasionally spit on the ground as different people were introduced. Eventually the time came for Obama to make his appearance. Just seeing him, still inside the Capitol on the Jumbotrons the crowd was roaring. So when he actually came out, with his first wave in the inauguration ceremony Flags were waving, people yelling, crying and praising the lord for this day. One of the biggest moments for me, was when I saw a black man, my grandfathers age with tears of joy streaming down his face. This proved and was a testimony to me that Obama didn’t just inspire my generation. He inspired my grandfathers and my mothers and those who wanted change in this country. He believed in change, he does believe in change, and has inspired this country for change. Walking away from the Inauguration, I knew this was something I was going to carry with me for my entire lifetime. Moments, pictures, thoughts that I would share with my children and grandchildren (when and if they come….trust me I’m not rushing anything!!) It was such an experience to be there and to witness the small and not so small moments our history was experiencing. For now though, I will post a few pictures, maybe a video. But I will blog more tomorrow. I’m exhausted and have had a long day of walking, stopping and silently weeping as I shared my belief in our 44th President of the United States of America, President Barack Obama.

Good morning on inauguration day!

January 20, 2009 - 2 Responses

Well the big day has finally arrived! I’m writing at 5:45 a.m. as we get ready to head to our buses and into the city for the exciting day. As my roommate and I go over the day we can’t help but be a little nervous. We don’t want to get lost in the 4 million people! However, excitment is definately the number one feeling of the day! As the events unwrap I hope each of you gets to see the history be made, and later share with me the firsthand account of this momumental event!

have a great day!


hey it’s all most here

January 20, 2009 - One Response

General Colin L.powell

General Colin L.powell

lisa ling from national geographic

lisa ling from national geographic

here is some picture because pictures speak louder than words .

Houston – We Are One Concert Video Clipits

January 20, 2009 - 3 Responses

The Taxation Without Representation Sign Put Up To Draw Attention To The D.C. Natives

The Crowd Singing “This Land Is Your Land” – Followed by the chanting of Obama

Just A Quick Scan Of The Crowd

Ordering Pizza Online and tracking it’s progress can be so exciting. (For Kyle and I)

We Found Our Seats!! (Amy – West Chazy, NY)

January 20, 2009 - 4 Responses

It was another busy and exciting day in DC. We started the day with a reception at the Library of Congress with Senator Dick Durbin.dc-1-19-09-011

Kacie and Jerika were introduced to the Senator, which was pretty neat.


While we were hanging out in the back corner during this event , we were approached by a reporter for an Illinois newspaper, who interviewed us for a story in her paper. There are reporters and camera crews everywhere!

Our next stop was at Arlington National Cemetary.


We could have spent much more time here, however we had tickets to the Kids Inaugural Concert at the Verizon Center.

Guess what?


We found our seats as opposed to yesterday’s concert that we didn’t make it to. Michelle Obama and Jill Biden were there with their children/grandchildren. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the show, which consisted of performers such as Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, and Demi Lovato. The metro ride home was quite interesting. It was almost like a pep rally. One man got the crowd to chant different things, such as “O-bam-a”.

It was a fun day!

Yet another fun filled, packed day

January 20, 2009 - Leave a Response

Hey everyone!

Well the big day is finally about to arrive!  Today was yet another day filled with exciting activities.  We were up early again this morning and off to our Presidential Group Meetings (I am in the “Polk” group) where as a group we discuss different things regarding the election and the election process and also what the presidents inside duties are.  Today we focused on campaign strategies and press conferences.  We did a mock press conference where I got to be the president addressing the issue of Hurricane Katrina and how National Security would respond to it.  I got to answer questions from the “press” as well.  After this we went to see our final keynote speaker, Al Gore.  Along the lines of all the other speeches, he spoke to us of the leadership opportunities we had, and how to make a difference in our communities.  He also talked about the climate change, and how he believes we can change it.  Later we went into Washington D.C. for a break in our busy schedule for some laughter.  We saw the Reduced Shakespeare Company, a company who travels around the world entertaining people with their shortened versions of great literature, or in the case of today the history of America in 60 minutes.  It was fun and extremely funny!  After that came the Capitol steps, who liked to poke fun at politicians with funny songs and funny dances.  We then went to Pentagon city and to the mall for dinner, and returned to our dorms for a VERY early start tomorrow morning! I Can’t wait to share this historic day with everyone!

Thanks everyone!


P.S. I will include pictures from the Al Gore speech tomorrow!

Colleen Lacombe- Ready to Go!

January 19, 2009 - Leave a Response

Well I’m all packed and ready to go. We leave in about two hours, so I’m getting really excited. I’ve packed snacks to share and extra layers, since it is only going to be about 30 degrees in Washington, D.C. tomorrow. They are also expecting some snow tonight, so I’ll be bringing my boots. I’ll be sure to take many pictures of the event and I’ll post them on Wednesday. Wish me luck!

Inspiring speeches and opening ceremony!

January 19, 2009 - 7 Responses
Capitol hill!

Capitol hill!

The white house

The white house

Archbishop Desmond Tutu adresses the crowd
Archbishop Desmond Tutu adresses the crowd
General Colin Powell adresses the conference

General Colin Powell adresses the conference

stage of keynote speakers

stage of keynote speakers

Hello Everyone!
Well it was another extremely exciting day here in Washington, jam packed as well! With a 6:30 a.m. start we made our way to the University of Maryland for the start of our day. None other than General Colin Powell spoke to the conference with many wise words of wisdom about leadership, and the future of America and our country. Some of these words of wisdom included “leadership starts with a vision and is broken down into goals.” Next came the most inspiring speech of the day for me. Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke. For those of you who do not know he is one of the leaders of the peaceful war against African apartheid. At 77 years old this man still cracks jokes as if he’s twenty, however along with those jokes he delivered an inspiring speech leading to a standing ovation and applause to be heard throughout the University. Some of the many inspiring quotes coming form that speech were “You are a VSP, I am a VSP, we all are very special people.” as well as “One of your greatest qualities is being idealistic. You dream, you dream that this will be a world with no war, we dream we will one day be one family, we dream that the world will live as one family,” followed by my favorite “I’m 77 years old and I say the world is in good hands, compassionate hands, caring hands, beautiful hands, the world is in YOUR HANDS.” The speech also included other sayings we here often such as “reach for the stars” and as I heard one faculty adviser commenting “the corny things sound amazing coming from him!” and i couldn’t agree more! Now after that we didn’t think the day could go uphill from there, but much to our surprise it did. As many of you may have seen on tv the opening ceremonies for the main event this week, the inauguration, happened today at the Lincoln memorial. We got to be up close and personal, as well as on the National Mall to see the action. We heard performances from Springsteen, Beyonce, Garth Brooks, as well as Bono, and we also heard our own President elect Barack Obama speak. An exhilarating event that we all enjoyed. We returned to the University of Maryland to see another speaker by the name of Erik Weihenmayer. A man who has climbed some of the highest summits in the world, including Everest. This being amazing enough, however he comes through more amazing because he is blind. We heard of his adventures and his challenges throughout his life and what he sees to come. Today was exciting, amazing, and also exhaust

headed to Lincoln Memorial!

headed to Lincoln Memorial!

Erik Weihenmayer

Erik Weihenmayer

ing. I hope everyone is having a great week and enjoys the blog and pictures!


A Test Run,

January 19, 2009 - Leave a Response

Hi this Riley O’Neil. I have been on the subway and I have been traveling and walking. I saw Barack Obama, his wife and daughter up on a big screen. We had to watch it on there because it was too crowded up close.

Today was a test run for the inauguration day. The Woods and O’Neils left the quiet suburbs of Arlington, Virginia and braved the crowds of Washington DC. It was the girls first time on a subway (or metro). So, that was a thrill for them. We made arrangements to meet some friends at The National Museum of the American Indian. After, seeing three of our past presidents and no Native American we relies that we were in The National Museum of American not the National Museum of American Indian. We ended up heading towards the concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Everyone here is so excited. I haven’t met one person who was unfriendly. Hope and change hang in the air. It vibrates all around you down here. Here is a quick video review of our day.

Houston – We Are One Concert

January 19, 2009 - 2 Responses

“Now announcing our 44th President of the United States, President Barack Obama.” Though only a dress rehearsal with stand ins, the gathered crowd went wild. Although it was not the day, nor the time, everyone who had gathered to take pictures of the Capitol building, turned, looked and cheered. These people believed in hope and change that Obama has promised. This was just the beginning of a wonderful, inspirational day. After taking our fair share of pictures at the Capitol Building, we turned to the not so empty mall green behind us. The Portolettes were to be found lining the entirety of the sidewalk, the Jumbo Trons (viewing screens) and speakers were sporadically placed throughout. Walking down the mall we were not to forget to ride the Merry-Go-Round once or twice. The schools of people surrounding us on all sides, could be found sporting their version of Obama-wear, with a big smile or laugh plastered on their face. Although it was still early in the day, much before the Inauguration Concert – We Are One, the believers were out in full support. The news booths had been placed, and MSNBC booms were everywhere, scanning the crowds as many waved home, anxious to see if they had made it on TV. Police security was to be found riding around on small motorcycles enforcing the need for a permit to sell merchandise on the Mall. Making our way toward the Washington Monument and then Lincoln Memorial, swarms of people on all sides were crowding together to hear some of the promised stars performing. At the base of the Washington monument a FBI motorcade was placed, with sharp shooters standing on top of their trucks, carefully watching those courageous enough to speak out, and call attention to themselves. Among these people, the protesters of Abu Ghraib were seen wearing the typical orange jump suit, walking together single file with their heads down. 2:30 rolled around, and we were positioned above the reflecting pool looking at the crowd surrounding us. All waiting to listen to U2, Beyonce, John Legend, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks, Mary J. Blige Will.I.Am. Wyclef Jean and more along with many of the actors of our time, Steve Caroll, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Jack Black and others. Standing among the throngs of people (estimated 300,000 people, although believed more) the chanting of Obama Obama filled the air after he had delivered his remarks re-assuring us, “It is you, Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there. . . .” (Obama). Once finished, the hundreds of thousands of people that had come, needed somewhere to go. Lines coming out of Metro Stations could be seen for blocks , buses packed full of people traveling to their hotel, home or to dinner, while our entourage along with many other people walked down the middle of Constitution Avenue. Along our walk back to Chinatown, Kyle (from a previous conversation we had had) showed me the Wilson (District) building, where the citizens of the District of Columbia recently added a display calling to attention the amount they had paid in federal taxes paid this past year. This is to show, and bring attention to the fact that citizens in the District of Columbia do not have representation in congress, highlighting that they have taxation without representation. Hoping with the new turn of Obama, they will be able to receive representation. Reminiscing on our day over dinner we toasted to a new year, new beginnings and our new President, while the city prepared for the millions of people coming to show their own belief in change.

Granny, we’re NOT in W. Chazy anymore!!

January 19, 2009 - 2 Responses

We didn’t quite manage to do everything we expected. We took the metro into DC this morning and our first stop was the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Next, we attempted to watch the opening ceremony concert. We worked our way through the enormous crowd only to realize that we couldn’t reach the reserved area, which we had tickets for. It was absolutely CRAZY! dc-1-18-09-022
We finally decided it was best to just turn around and fight our way back through the crowd and get out of there. We figured it would be easier to go to one of the other museums and just watch the concert on HBO later, since everyone else was at the concert there shouldn’t be much of a crowd at the museums. We went to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The kids really liked this museum. We finished our tour of before the concert ended and thought it would be best to get to the metro and get out of town before the other 500,000 people flooded the metro system. We got back to Lori’s house and they were watching the concert live on TV. It was a really good concert we were told 🙂

Tomorrow we have another busy day planned. We will be attending a breakfast at the Library of Congress with Senator Dick Durbin. Later in the afternoon, we will take a trip to Arlington National Cemetary. Then we have tickets to the Kids Inaugural Concert in the evening (hopefully we can get to our seats). We are having a great time in spite of the minor obstacles, but it definately isn’t West Chazy!!!

Finally Here!

January 18, 2009 - One Response
Scholars playing travel scrabble while waiting in the airport!

Scholars playing travel scrabble while waiting in the airport!


PYIC stage

PYIC stage

Journalist Lisa Ling

Journalist Lisa Ling

Hello from Washington D.C.!

Well it’s about 12:37 a.m. and it’s been a long day! However, I am here at my hotel in Washington with lots to tell you already. The day started off with last minute packing and goodbyes to all my friends and family, which took most of the morning. After a smooth flight from little old Burlington International Airport, I arrived at Washington Dulles where it was a bit more crowded to say the least! However as soon as I got off the plane I was surrounded by a sea of fellow scholars from the PYIC conference. After a hectic battle to find my luggage I joined my fellow scholars for a LONG wait in line to try and get us all checked in. This effort to get over 1000 students checked in at once failed, so we were then bused to the University of Maryland on over 100 buses for another try at check in. After securing my luggage and getting my name tag it was off to dinner with some new friends from California who I had met on the bus ride over. After dinner came the exciting part of the day. Our first keynote speech from Lisa Ling. We all gathered in the stadium at the University and listened to her speak of the upcoming inauguration and about her past. For those of you who don’t know Lisa Ling is an international journalist and has worked in places such as Afghanistan, and North Korea. Her inspiring speech included advice such as “travel the world to learn new things” and “learn a little bit about a lot of things in college.” After a standing ovation for our speaker we all proceeded back to our hotels for the commencement of the night. Tomorrow we will enjoy speeches from General Colin Powel and other prominent speakers as well. All with leadership activities and more talk about the actual inauguration day! I hope everyone is well!


The O’Neils and Woods arrive in Virginia (the adventure begins, Shawn)

January 18, 2009 - Leave a Response

Thanks to the Woods’ superb sense of direction We made it to Arlington Virginia, where we met are gracious host Susan and Jim. I created a quick video of our trip. This video was created on the fly…

LaValley’s made it to DC (Amy, West Chazy, NY)

January 18, 2009 - Leave a Response

1 Dunkin Donuts, 2 Rest Areas, 1 Applebees, and 9 hours later; we made it! It was a long ride for 3 kids in the back seat, but thanks to Nintendo DS and Apple I-pods we all survived.
We plan to do some sight-seeing tomorrow and also attend the concert at the Lincoln Memorial, which will broadcast tomorrow evening on HBO. Thanks again to Lori & Steve for their generosity. This would not be possible without their hospitality.
Check back tomorrow night for our latest update.

Houston Arrives In D.C.

January 17, 2009 - 3 Responses

After being packed into the back seat of our small silver Hyundai for two days and almost 10 hours, I’m happy to report that we are here! Our drive down consisted of BK, Sinatra and back seat jam sessions. Looking at the displays flying by, Obama was everywhere, and with the welcoming of all the people making the trip, the signs for delays seemed to be around every corner and bend. Billboards exclaiming Expect Major Delays on the day of Inauguration Jan. 20th were appearing before we even hit Baltimore.
After dropping bags at Kyle and Peter’s condo near Chinatown, we set out to explore some of the city. From the moment we stepped out onto the streets the energy and excitement of this event was filling the air. The newspaper boxes were no where to be found, as they have been pulled off of the streets to widen the sidewalks – a once empty park now houses an Air Force 1 plane – in less than five minutes of walking into the Bed Bath & Beyond a dozen air mattresses flew past me as people scurried, to give and lend space for those of us coming from out of the city – eating at the Austin Grill for lunch, the waitstaff could be found sporting the ‘newest’ Obama pins and asking questions of where we came from, if we were excited, how long would we be here and supplying minute by minute updates of Obama’s progress as his train makes his way to the city. Needless to say the city full of bunting and flags is now counting the hours until the President Elect raises his right hand.

Houston in D.C. – Over and Out.img_0190

The big day is TOMORROW!

January 17, 2009 - One Response

So we’ve waited and waited and the big day is finally about to arrive.  With a stressful week of school and sports behind me I can look forward to heading for D.C. tomorrow! My biggest stress at the moment is how to fit a ball gown into a suitcase.  I of course, like any 16 year old, waited until the last minute to pack everything, so I’m rushing around this evening to get everything done.  I’d like to take a minute to thank everyone for all the well wishes! All my teachers, friends, and especially my parents!  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity I know I will never forget!  In all the excitement also comes a little bit of nerves.  Going alone to Washington of course makes me a little nervous, but also more excited to make new friends! I hope everyone is well and also excited for this week!


Colleen Lacombe’s Trip to the Presidential Inauguration

January 16, 2009 - Leave a Response

My name is Colleen Lacombe and I’m from Peru, NY. I’m currently a junior at the University of Rochester where I am a psychology major and am pre-dental. I will be headed to Washington, D.C. with a group of 150 students. We will be leaving on Monday, traveling through the night, and will arrive on Tuesday in time to see the Inaugural Ceremony from the overflow area. Following the ceremony, my group will go directly to the bus to travel back to Rochester. Although it will be a quick trip, it will be an exciting event to be at. Stay tuned for a blog of the event and pictures to come!


Kacie LaValley’s Trip to Washington D.C.

January 16, 2009 - Leave a Response

     kacie-horse-camp-08 Hi my name is Kacie LaValley. I am 10 years old. I’m from West Chazy NY. I have a pony named Charlie Brown and 23 more horses to take care of daily.Oh ya and I cant forget the dogs! I have a ten year old mutt named Jake, and a 10 month old Cocker Spaniel named Paisley. Taking care of all of the animals every day can be easy some days, but others not fun at all. Either way chores have to be done.

      If it wasn’t for the head wrangler, Bill and all the girls (Tracy,Gretchen,Tricia,and Julie) and our friend, Lori who invited us into her home and made all of the arrangements for tickets to several events, we would have never been able to have the experience to take the trip to Washington D.C. I think the trip to Washington D.C. is going to be an awesome experience!!



January 16, 2009 - Leave a Response

I’m Elizabeth Nelson fromFranklin County, NY . I Fly out from Albany tomorrow to Washington. leg_076_editedD.C.  I was  nominated By The CYLC. to represent my area at the presidential inauguration . during my trip i will be  visiting various museums and the national mall . also there, I will be attending many conferences and listening  to people like Al Gore , Desmond Tutu, General Colin L. Powell.   On inaugural day I will be attending the inauguration watching the parade and then attending an inaugural ball.

I am really nervous about flying.  I have never flown before.  People have told me that it is safe and that the flight will only be an hour long.   Wish me luck.  I will let you all know how things go. and hopefully post some really awesome pictures. 

beth nelson

Stressful Week!

January 15, 2009 - Leave a Response

Hi Everyone!

I know everyone is gearing up for one of the most historic weeks in history. I’m sure my fellow bloggers are also scurrying to get things done before the big trip.  In order to get the blessing to go to D.C. i had to take all my midterm exams early this week, and with one physics exam I can see the light!  I’m getting more excited by the minute and hope all you are too!


p.s. I’ve included a picture because everyone likes a face to go with a name!december-08-0185

Buttoning Up the Ranch (Amy LaValley, West Chazy, NY)

January 15, 2009 - One Response


In addition to packing for a family of 5 (which by the way may require a U-hual van), we also need to ensure that all 24 horses and 2 dogs are taken care of. Luckily, I have some very responsible (and willing) individuals to meet those needs. The horses are being tended to by my “head wrangler”, Bill. Bill, with the help of several others (Tracy, Gretchen, Tricia, Tori, and Julie) will be responsible for all the daily chores. They hold all the responsibility of making sure the horses are fed and watered twice/day, stalls are mucked daily, and general maintenance is in order while we are away. I have faith that my barn will look just as I left it when I return.

dan-and-kids-on-atvI know I can count on my father and his patrol to keep things in line if all else fails.

As for the 2 dogs, Bill will also be in charge of our 11 year old watch dog, LL Cool Jake.ll-cool-jake

Our second dog, Paisley is a little more high maintenance. She is a 10 month old Cocker Spaniel puppy. My sister, Melissa and her 2 children, Logan and Mallory will tend to her.



So much to do any only 2 days left until the big trip.

O’Neil Girls, Bristol

January 15, 2009 - 2 Responses



A poem By Fiona O’Neil Age 9jan-13-2009-033

Washington DC!           

Museums and Libraries 

Fountains & Statues

Washington DC the glory!  











Hi My name is Riley I am 7 years old. I am really excited to go to Washington DC. I am going to see Barack Obama speak


Meet The Houston

January 15, 2009 - 2 Responses



Tori Houston

Hey Everyone,

My name is Tori Houston, I’m a Junior currently attending Montpelier High School.  Let me introduce you to the characters y’all will be reading about, my fellow adventures if you will. My Mother Patty and Father Lawrence are the brave souls willing to claim  my sister  and I as we embark on this exciting adventure as a family.  Maddi, my seven year old sister, is a second grader and more politically savvy than any 8th grader I know. She’s been claiming Obama as her official candidate long before the Hiliary – Barack debate was decided. On the D.C. side, you’ll soon be introduced to my cousin Kyle and his partner Peter, who have graciously opened up their home in order to make this once in a lifetime opportunity a reality.  Our plan is to leave Friday afternoon in hopes to avoid the parking lot that I-95 has been predicted to become. If all goes well we are planning to reach D.C. sometime late Saturday morning, and check out the preparations that have been made for Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday on Monday, and the historical day of Obama’s Inauguration on Tuesday.  From the morning after, when my family toasted to Baracks success with our Orange Juice filled wine glasses, I knew that I wanted to find a way to attend this historic event.  Though we were not able to obtain tickets, we are still planning to be out there with the estimated 1.5 – 2 million other supporters, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mr. Obama himself. I will be sure to keep everyone updated with the unfolding adventures to come.

Houston – Over and Out.

I should have turned left at Albuquerque: The travels of the O’Neil Family, Shawn, Bristol

January 14, 2009 - One Response

jan-13-2009-0311  While my directional sense isn’t the greatest I am fortunate to travel with a savvy group of friends who graciously found a place for me and my family to stay.  This whole adventure started with a quick e-mail to Senator Sanders office way back in March 2008 asking for tickets for the 2009 inauguration in anticipation of an Obama victory. In November 2008,  I could not believe my good fortune when a message was left on my answering machine stating that I was the recipient of  tickets. After many discussions with my wife, Katie, she decided to stay home with our 3 year old son,Finn and newly acquired Pug puppy, Violet.  So this momentous historical event will be witness by a dad (Me) and two daughters Fiona (9) and Riley (7) amongst a sea of millions of hopeful spectators.  Look for us and wait for our stories. It will be a family perspective.

BHS junior headed for D.C.!

January 14, 2009 - 6 Responses

Hi all!

My name is Dylana and I’m a junior at Burlington High School in good old Burlington, Vermont! I am headed for the inauguration through a program called Presidential Youth Inagural Confrence (PYIC).  I attended a previous conference which got me nominated for this one.  It should be an exciting week throughout the conference with speakers such as Al Gore, and Lisa Ling all leading up to the big day!  I am very excited and look forward to writing about my adventure here!

Thanks everyone!


The LaValley family is headed to DC! (Amy)

January 13, 2009 - 2 Responses

october1Hi, I am Amy LaValley  from Clinton County NY and I am Washington, DC bound along with my husband, Ronnie and our daughters Heather (18), Jerika (11), and Kacie (10). We are very excited about the opportunity to be a part of history.  We will be leaving bright and early Saturday morning and have a full itinerary planned. Please check back often to hear about our adventure and view a picture or two.

Coming Soon: Members Of Your Community Blog Live From Inauguration 2009

January 12, 2009 - Leave a Response

As part of WPTZ’s commitment to community journalism, and NewsChannel 5 will be featuring community reporters blogging from President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington Jan. 20.

Community members of all ages will begin blogging soon about their experiences in the days leading up to and during this historic event.

Bloggers from both northern New York and Vermont will be reporting their experiences from the inauguration with written reports, images and video from the ceremony, providing a front row seat to history through the eyes of our own community members.

Check back here to read the latest blog entries and comment on what you see.