A few readers noticed, and wondered about, the empty spaces and seats along the parade route, a contrast to the massive crowd on the Mall. "
A great day - but also a cold, crowded one. Some folks left early," explains Inaugural Committee spokesman Josh Earnest.
I attended Reagan's first inauguration in 1981 with my parents. We purchased tickets to all of the events, but the big gala hosted by Johnny Carson at the Kennedy Center was over-sold and we were left out of that event. The Reagan Inauguration Committee, however, made up our loss by giving us great seats next to the President's reviewing stand and near the entrance to the north side of the White House. I know those tickets sold for about $200 a piece back then. I'm wondering if a lot of the attendees simply didn't purchase the pricey tickets to have a seat along the parade route. It seemed odd that there were so many empty seats with the supposed record crowds in attendance.
After the parade, we attended the ball at the National Museum of American History. The Tommy Dorcey Band performed and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. served as emcee. It was the only ball at which the President and Mrs. Reagan danced. The crowd was overwhelming, making it difficult to enjoy. You were packed into the ball like sardines. I remember the escalator feeding you up to the second floor with no room to go when you got to the top. Women's long gowns were getting stepped on and torn. There were celebrities all around if you could make them out. We were complaining to a young guy standing next to me about how everyone was pushing too hard to get closer to the stage. He nodded his head in agreement and then joined his father, Vice President George H.W. Bush, on the stage with the rest of the Bush family. I had no idea who Jeb Bush was until his father introduced him.
UPDATE: The Washington Post is reporting that thousands of ticket holders got shut out of the inaugural ceremony because the large crowd had overwhelmed security, forcing the closure of gates before all ticket holders could be admitted.