EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 20, 2009

Merrimack Valley residents ready for today's inauguration

It's everything Obama in the nation's capital

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The city is abuzz with Obamamania.

From the street vendors selling $5 buttons and $10 commemorative coins to the highest-ranking government officials rubbing elbows at posh inaugural balls, it was all about Barack Obama, who takes the oath of office as president this morning.

The days leading up to the inauguration were filled with parties, shopping for memorabilia, and soaking up the atmosphere.

Many people from Massachusetts were in Washington over the long holiday weekend, some attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors, others checking out the festivities.

Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan and Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini were both at the mayors conference, usually held in January and coinciding this year with the inauguration.

Although they were there to attend a number of sessions on municipal government, there was no escaping the big events at the U.S. Capitol and the White House nearby.

During a cocktail reception and dinner at the National Building Museum on Saturday night, they sat with Andover resident Bill Fallon, who was in town for the inauguration but also visited friends from the Merrimack Valley.

His daughter Bridget works for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, so he got great tickets to the inauguration.

"This is a good day for the country," said Fallon, who works for Verizon but enjoys politics as a hobby. "He has great ideas."

Sitting with Fallon and Sullivan at the dinner was Mayor John Barrett of North Adams.

"There's a big excitement that's out there," he said. "Obama recognizes the fact that so much hope is placed in him. The pressure must be unbelievable."

But many believe Obama is up to the task.

Laura Vogler, 19, of Andover, a freshman at American University in Washington, said she attended a rally for Obama last year in Boston and has been a supporter ever since.

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