Though most headed to class on the first day of the spring semester, a handful of Bowdoin students were in Washington, D.C. at the beginning of the week. On Tuesday they headed to the National Mall for a different kind of first day: the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

After rising early to travel to the Mall, Sophia Seifert '09 got in with tickets in the silver section, provided by a friend who is in a labor union that supported the Obama campaign.

Though she faced some initial confusion waiting in a line that did not correspond to her ticket, Seifert characterized getting in through the gates and past the security checkpoint as "no problem" and found a place to watch the inauguration behind the reflecting pool.

Frances Milliken '09 viewed the ceremony from the orange section, with tickets from family members who were early supporters of the Maine Obama campaign. She left for the Mall at 5:30 a.m., arrived at 6 a.m., and waited in line for two hours before getting in.

From her spot on the Mall, Milliken could see Obama, but he looked "like my pinkie finger," she said.

Bobby McFerrin, who sang the popular song "Don't Worry, Be Happy," was in front of Milliken during the event and turned around to her and said, "President Obama, check that out! Not Johnson, not Williams, Obama!"

Amy Collier '12 had an especially unique inauguration experience as an event volunteer. As she'd subscribed to Obama e-mails throughout the campaign, she received an e-mail in December calling for inauguration volunteers and was notified in January that she had been selected. At 5 a.m. on Monday morning she took her post at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station.

"As people came off the Metro," Collier said, "I would tell them which parts of the Mall [and] which access points were still open, and which had filled up and where to go if you had tickets, stuff like that."

"As we were directing people, everyone was very cheerful even after you told them they had to walk a long distance," she added. "They were just so happy to be there, that really made a big impression."

Collier was released from her post at 11:15 a.m. and was able to view the ceremony on a JumboTron from the silver section.

Meredith Segal '08, who started the Students for Barak Obama Facebook group and was actively involved in the Obama campaign, wrote in an e-mail to the Orient that she was "seated on the platform for the swearing in and in the President's reviewing box for the parade."

In addition to the inauguration and the parade, Segal attended a Bipartisan Dinner held on Monday in honor of John McCain and a ball on Wednesday for campaign staffers. Of the ball, Segal wrote, "President Obama appeared moved by the sight of the armory packed with the kids who have spent the past two years working to bring about the event that occurred on January 20.

"He spoke to us off-the-cuff about his hopes and aspirations that this team of young leaders will continue to bring about change on national and local levels."

However, a few students were not able to enter the Mall, despite their holding tickets.

Zulmarie Bosques '11 obtained tickets for the purple section of the Mall from Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Senator she interned with in D.C. last summer.

Though she arrived by 6 a.m., Bosques waited in a line that stretched into a tunnel blocks away from the designated entrance point. She reached the gate by 11:15 a.m. only to find it closed. The crowd was so packed, she said, that there was no way to exit to search for another entrance.

Bosques said that, unable to enter the Mall, she "wanted to cry." Her mother provided a play-by-play of what was occurring in the events, and when Obama appeared on stage, she said that she could hear the "distant cheer."

"We were all so upset that we could hear him speak, but we couldn't see it," she added.

Kyle Dempsey '11 and Nyle Usmani '12 traveled to Washington, D.C. with Bosques. Dempsey had received silver tickets for himself and Usmani from his mother's cousin, Congressman Mike Michaud, who represents Maine's second district.

Dempsey and Usmani faced delays in D.C.: There was an accident on the Metro route their train was on, which set them back an hour behind schedule. They reached the Mall by 10:30 a.m. and found their way into the middle of a line for the silver section.

"We really couldn't see the end of the line," Dempsey said, explaining the vastness of the crowds.

Like Bosques, Dempsey and Usmani reached their point of entrance after the gates had been shut by security. Dempsey was told by a guard that their tickets were "essentially useless," so he and Usmani decided to make it as close to a large screen television as they could.

"We just ran around for a while and I think we just stumbled into [another area of] the silver section," Dempsey said. "When we finally got there, they let us pass through-maybe that section wasn't as full as the one we were originally standing in."

Darren Fishell '09, who joined Bowdoin alumni Clark Gascoigne '08, Frank Chi '08, and William Donohoe '08, managed to secure a ticket at the last minute, but was also unable to get in.

"It was a pity not to get into the event, but it was nice being there, it was nice just being in the city, it was amazing seeing so many people coming out," Fishell said. "Everybody was equally excited to get in there and see Obama speak."

The inauguration wasn't the only party students attended-Seifert and Emme Duncan '09 both attended inaugural balls.

In addition, on Monday, Milliken attended a dinner held in honor of Vice President Joe Biden, where she saw both Biden and Obama.

Former governor of Maine and Distinguished Lecturer Angus King also attended the inauguration, and observed the event from the orange section along with Associate Dean of Admissions Elmore More Jr. and Joan Benoit Samulson '79.

King likened his experience to being in "a huge crowd going to a football game where everybody was rooting for the same team. There was this wonderful sense of closeness, of excitement, of hope, of optimism, of civility, friendship, just an extraordinary moment in terms of the feeling in the crowd. Everyone was delighted to be there, people had come from great distances just for a glimpse of the ceremony, and it was really an extraordinary [event]."

Of President Obama's speech, King said, "I thought [it] was wonderful and I think it will become more widely praised and viewed as one of the best of all inaugural speeches as time goes by."

"It wasn't a campaign speech," he added. "It was very serious, I think the tone was just right for the circumstances. It was very substantive and sober."

"It was a wonderful experience and my advice is that when people hear about something like this, it's worth doing. It's worth taking the trouble," King said. "It was a once in a lifetime experience."

This article was corrected on January 24, 2009.