January 22nd, 2009
12:50 PM ET
4 years ago

iReport: 'Survivors of the purple tunnel of doom' weigh in

One iReporter submitted this “purple tunnel” photo.

One iReporter submitted this “purple tunnel” photo.

The oath of office flub wasn't the only Inauguration Day snafu: Thousands of ticket-holders were trapped in a tunnel just yards away from the site of President Obama's swearing-in. Already, more than three thousand have joined the "Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom" Facebook group - and many have posted images of their experience on iReport.com.

Were you a purple ticket-holder? Share your Inauguration Day experience on

Filed under: Inauguration • iReport
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. BB

    Deal with you whiners. None of us get everything we want. Disappointed I'm sure, but not life-shattering. Go back to work and do something for your community. Quit obsessing about more stuff to create chaos in an already chaotic world.

    January 22, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  2. Susan

    This was bound to happen. I have lived in the DC area for years. Once I was trying to get to the mall for the fireworks and got stuck in the metro. We could hear them but couldn't quite make it to see them b/c of the gridlock. Overall, this whole affair was well done. I'm sorry for those who got stuck but if that was the biggest snafu, aside from Roberts flubbing the oath, it was a success.

    January 22, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. Anthony

    The purple ticket line was completely ridiculous. They needed to bring in some security and make some actual lines, because it was more like a mob, there was even a different line of purple ticket holders that werent even in the tunnel

    January 22, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. An alternative to Gitmo

    Maybe the solution for Guantanamo is to ship the terrorist detainees at Gitmo to this "Purple Tunnel of Doom" and then we will never hear from them again .....

    January 22, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. kathleen

    OH Boy, I was among this sea of love, all marching in history, I have to add that I was getting short of breath when I turned and saw that it was more people behind me as much as in front of me. I love every step I made and above all adored every step I heard. Go Obama!

    January 22, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |

    who would want to go to the pompas gathering anyway. Most people went just to see if someone got shot.

    January 22, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. Matt

    WHINE MORE. Seriously, 2 million people hit DC like a plague of locusts and you think the whole thing was going to go off perfectly? This is just crazy talk.

    January 22, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. Julie

    The funniest part of this is that people were pouring in on the Washington Monument side with no security at all. Good thing that wasn't common knowledge to any trouble makers.

    January 22, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. Joan , Ontario

    They kept telling people to get there really early because the lines would be long as security was so tight. Maybe if these people keep their tickets they will be rewarded somehow by the committee. I'm sure they feel badly that people did not get in because it appeared that there was room for them in the area of the Lincoln monument. Those who camped out or arrived very early in the morning did seem to get in OK.

    January 22, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. TCM

    wow...this is really newsworthy....in fact, anyone who made the trip to see this farce occur got what they deserved. Too bad the purple tunnel of doom didn't empty out at Gitmo, or the center of Baghdad....that way liberals could really have a purpose to cry over.

    January 22, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Eric

    That sucks for all of the dedicated folks that planed to attend this historic event. In time at least you'll be able to say you were part of another historic event, although not the one that you were hoping...

    Frankly, this is a better story than being somone that got in and couldn't see anything...

    January 22, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. arc, Lugano CH

    THE OLD TIMER January 22nd, 2009 1:13 pm ET
    who would want to go to the pompas gathering anyway. Most people went just to see if someone got shot.
    Old Timer: It's not 1950 anymore. People who think like you are thankfully dying out and becoming extinct. The country will be better for it once you and your kind are gone. You're a redneck white trash dodo bird.

    January 22, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. Empty suit, empty promises

    "Thousands of ticket-holders were trapped in a tunnel just yards away" and sorry Obama apologists, would you be happy if you PAID and were one of those many thousands?

    You morons need to knock this hero worship off, it is OK to say something truthful about the messiah or something involving him without being a "hater", "right-wing nut", "racist" or a "Hannity worshipper".

    This is how Germany and Hitler came about where legions of sheep simply believed everything he said and NO dissension was allowed.

    STOP IT....................

    January 22, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. Soccer Nana

    @ Old Timer, you're an unhappy person aren't you?

    January 22, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Matt

    Sounds like a support group for crybabies. I think they already have something like that though. it's called the 2009 Republican Party.

    January 22, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. mountain man

    I was a purple ticket holder. I got there at 8:30 and no one was in charge. There was no lines, no order, no clear flow. I made it in only because I cut into the mob and pushed my way through. Hade I waited I probably never would have made it in.

    January 22, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. Alan

    I am sure that somewhere, somehow, Bush and Cheney were behind this!!! There is a video I'm sure of Bush locking the gates.

    January 22, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. Indy

    I care why?

    January 22, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Norom

    THE OLD TIMER January 22nd, 2009 1:13 pm ET

    who would want to go to the pompas gathering anyway. Most people went just to see if someone got shot.

    You are a complete idiot-

    January 22, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. kevin c.

    Yes, we too had Purple tickets and we came out of Judiciary Sq metro after 0630 only to find a mob in front of us of folks trying to find the proper gates. We were told to go up the street and turn right and right again to get to the purple gate entrance. Once there we saw a huge line snaking around (no police here and no volunteers) a huge crowd around the corner was stuck between a bus blocking the road and an orange barrier, we all filed around and up the street orderly. We went another block and we were told to go into the 3rd street tunnel. We did and found about 1 mile of the tunnel filled with waiting ticket holders, about 5 thick. This went on almost to the back of the tunnel. Standing in line orderly, we rubbed our hands, we joked, stretched, stomped our feet, made new friends and chanted "FIRED – UP" and "O- BAMA". We moved some, about a few cold steps every 2 minutes or so, maybe less. No water, no Don's Johns. Some elderly in the crowd were not looking too good walking all the way back to the end of the tunnel. Well, the line at 11 was impossibly long and we began to become about 25 thick in the line. Some folks started stopping halfway going to the back of the line to cut in and some, many in the crowd yelled to go to the back of the line. Tempers got a bit terse. We came out of the tunnel FIRED UP to the camera and sunlight and it hit us that maybe we were not going to make in on time, or even worse, not at all. Blinded by the light, we went down the street in a huge group (I would say 5,000 to 10,000 of us in the tunnel still by that time). We went down the street, cold and tired and began seeing only old blankets on the ground tussled with dried leaves, tons of swirling newspapers and folks dazed in disbelief....we were not going to get in with our tickets in hand. We all cried, held our heads low, sad faces everywhere. We could not believe it was happening. We walked towards the gate and we held onto the fence, thousands still in the tunnel, thousands holding onto the fence. We were cold and our hearts ached. We walked away. We headed for the metro and out of the city to Bethesda -Metro Center and went into our Hyatt Metro Center hotel. We rented a room for the night for we live in Arlington, VA and we did not want to get trapped on the other side of the river and not be able to use our precious tickets. We went to the lobby and watched the swearing in on TV, it was 11:50 and made it out of that "Purple Hole" – 3rd Street Tunnel. What an awful dream to take home with us. Aretha Franklin sang and we smiled and clapped our hands when Obama said "I DO". I believe someone should be held accountable. I believe the worry that folks were going to sell their tickets was the least of the problem. Handing out too many tickets was the bigger ego here, sorry to say. It put a pall on the ceremony for many who came so far. Our friends we met in the tunnel in front of us, were working for the Governor's office in Michigan traveled much farther than us with tickets in hand, smiles on their faces only to be turned away.

    January 22, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  21. sally

    survivors?? your judgment, or lack, did not get you out of bed early enough to beat the rush of all your fellow purple travelers. you survived??? this article is best labeled, the for-lazy tunnel of doom. on the good side, you beat the rush out. right?

    January 22, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  22. Dwion

    To Oldtimer... I would say that the idiotic, moronic, redneck remark about most people going only to see if someone got shot is the exactly the type of thinking that millions(read most) Americans can feel in their hearts will soon be changed. That will be changed brought about by the election of Obama only makes old coots like you look like the bigots that you are. Soon all of you old time bigots will be dead and gone and all I can say is AMEN

    January 22, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. OKIE

    Hey you people, want some cheese with your WHINE?

    January 22, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. Uncle Fester

    CNN- why do you allow this kind of crap to be posted?

    THE OLD TIMER January 22nd, 2009 1:13 pm ET

    who would want to go to the pompas gathering anyway. Most people went just to see if someone got shot.

    January 22, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  25. TerryMD

    I was not part of the Purple ticket people, but was part of the Silver ticket people who could not leave our area at the end of the ceremony. We had to break down a chain link fence around the American Indian Museum to get out. Whoever was in charge of crowd management for the Inauguration failed their responsibilities profoundly.

    January 22, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
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