Six months ago, on a whim, Mary McPartland booked a January 2013 trip with her son to Washington, D.C.. Little did she know they’d win tickets to see President Barack Obama inaugurated that very weekend.
Ms. McPartland, a Springs resident, and her 13-year-old son, Andrew Wilson, were recently recognized at a press conference hosted by United States Senator Charles E. Schumer in Manhattan last month. They are among 225 New Yorkers who won a statewide lottery to watch the nation’s 57th swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol on January 21— which is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“I was almost like ‘This has to be a joke,’” said Ms. McPartland, recalling her immediate reaction after someone from the senator’s officer phoned her about a week before Christmas to tell her she was one of the winners.
It’s almost as if the two were destined to win the lottery, as Ms. McPartland originally scheduled the trip to D.C. without realizing the inauguration coincided with the weekend they picked. Not long ago when she began researching hotel prices for the weekend and saw rooms for $800 to $900 a night, she was surprised and said to herself, “What the heck?”
“I thought the software was, like, bugged,” she said.
They tried to cancel the airline tickets, but to no avail. But just before Thanksgiving, though, Andrew convinced his mother to enter a statewide lottery hosted by Senator Schumer. “He said, ‘What are you crazy, we have to enter that,” Ms. McPartland said.
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers entered the lottery, according to a press released issued by the senator’s office. The press conference included 12 winners and their families from the New York City metro area and Long Island.
“I am thrilled for these New Yorkers, who will soon be headed to Washington, D.C., to witness a piece of America’s history,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “The winners of this lottery have the unique opportunity to attend President Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, and I am positive they will remember this moment for years and years to come. Although I wish all of America could attend the inauguration, there is only so much space, and I ask you to join me in congratulating these lucky New Yorkers for winning their tickets.”
Getting the chance to watch the presidential inauguration is “pretty amazing,” Andrew said. He said it would be “like watching history.” Social studies is his favorite subject at the Springs School, he added.
“I just feel like I really take an interest in it,” Andrew said. “I feel like to learn about the world and our country’s history, it’s learning about how you got where you are now.”
Ms. McPartland said she and her son watched President Obama’s first inauguration together four years ago. “For a 13-year-old kid to be watching history, America’s first black president, we watched it on TV the first time, and to be there the second time, it just takes your breath away,” she said.
Ms. McPartland, said she’s a registered Republican. But party affiliation doesn’t detract from the significance of the event for her.
“It’s a massive thrill as an American to watch your president,” she said.