Greg Olzack knows a little about presidential inaugurations.
He attended President Bush’s in January 2005, thanks to his close friend Dennis Cardoza.
The former Atwater mayor (1980-84) and city council member ('84-'96) said things felt a little crowded in Washington, D.C., where nearly 500,000 came to celebrate the start of Bush’s second term.
“We remarked it was so crowded there, and wondered how people got around,” he said. “I’m trying to ovelay that experience with how busy it is going to be this time around.”
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With upward of 3 million convering on our nation’s capital for Barack Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday, he does have concerns that some people may get caught in traffic as the ceremonies begin. Does he have any advice for this year’s set of newbies?
“From what everyone says, get everywhere as soon as you can by the break of day,” he said. “It's almost like these people who wait outside for concert tickets or new XBoxes.”
Olzack and his wife, Ann MacDonald, will be staying at Cardoza’s home just outside of Washington, D.C. The two families were close growing up. He was good friends with Dennis Cardoza’s brother Bob while at Atwater High School, and became close with Dennis when the two served on the Atwater City Council.
Olzack secured two tickets when Sen. Dianne Feinstein guaranteed that all of the state’s electorate receive two tickets to the inauguration. Cardoza had chosen Olzack as the 18th Congressional District’s elector.
Interestingly, long before the list of Democratic presidential candidates were winnowed to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Olzack was firmly behind Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.
“The fellow I was supporting and wanted to win was Joe Biden,” Olzack said. “I just like the way he does things. He’s not afraid to stand up and say what he believes in. He’s a straight-shooter. Then, when Obama became the obvious choice, I said, ‘OK, he'll be good.’ Then, when he picked Biden for vice president, I got my best two shots in reverse order.”
Olzack and MacDonald plan to leave Wednesday and visit with family before heading back to the Cardozas on Sunday. Monday, they’ll attend a party Cardoza is holding, and Tuesday morning, it’s off the inauguration, where they’ll actually be close enough for a seat.
That night, they’ll attend the Western Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where Obama and Biden are expected to drop by, according to numerous media reports.
“It’s going to be the experience of a lifetime,” Olzack said of the trip. “Any other person being elected, I probably would have said, ‘Thanks, but I’ll take a pass.’ This is going to be momentous.”