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Who'll Get To See Inauguration In-Person?

Early Show - Inauguration/Capitol Hill - Jan. 12, 2009
CBS
Barack Obama's inauguration is only eight days away, and Americans are lining up to try to witness the historic event.

As CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras observed on The Early Show Monday, it's easily the hottest ticket in town.

Predictions on how many people will attend continue to fluctuate. But what's clear is that Americans from far and wide want to watch as Mr. Obama is sworn in.

Officials estimate it could draw a million people or more, attending through sheer luck, a gift, or dogged determination.

With only 240,000 free tickets available, it was the luck of the draw at many congressional offices.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer was deluged by 150,000 entries in a raffle his office held. One-hundred-seventy-five people hit the historic jackpot, including Yolanda Edwards-Daniels, who says, "I'm just thrilled and honored to have the privilege to be there and see such history take place."

The Branch Brothers of Tennessee were picked by their grandmother, who says, "This is their history."

She secured tickets early and surprised them at Christmas.

"I screamed a little when I saw the -- when I opened the envelope," Marcus Branch says.

If you have a ticket for the ceremony at the Capitol, and you're on the edge of the first 100,000 ticket holders, you'll be around First Street. On the fringe of the 240,000 ticket holders, you'll be almost half a mile away, near Fourth Street. And without a ticket, you could wind up as far from the podium as the Lincoln Memorial, almost two miles away.

Says Linda Douglass of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, "The end of the Capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial will be open to the public for the first time. ... People will be able to stand together. It'll be pretty cozy if they all show up! (They could) witness the swearing-in on ten Jumbotrons."

That's good enough for the ticket-less-but-hopeful-folks, such as Paul Parrish and his wife, who says, "We've been Democrats for a long time."

"We might be disappointed," Paul admits, "but we'll go without the tickets if necessary."

Some are determined to get to D.C. by hook or by crook, people such as Ryan Bowen, who's been cycling all the way from Los Angeles. "I wanted to get to this inauguration because it means something special."

No matter what, the inauguration is expected to lure an unprecedented number of witnesses, Assuras concludes.

Below is her piece, which includes views, from various vantage points, of the platform:

See the CBSNews.com "Special Report: Inauguration '09" by clicking here.