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Locals head to D.C. for inauguration

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By Alice Du Pont

Like millions of Americans from across the nation, at least four buses loaded with Gadsden County residents, along with an unknown number of people who drove their personal and rented vehicles, headed to Washington, D.C. in recent days to be a part of the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

One bus loaded up in the parking lot of the Quincy Plaza Sunday afternoon.

"I'm just excited to go. When we heard a bus was leaving out of Quincy we said we weren't going to miss this," said 30-something Tim Gurley, who is making his first trip to the nation's capital. The Gurley family and several friends came from Cairo, Ga. to join the Gadsden County group that was organized by Rolanda Jackson.

“We're going to enjoy ourselves, but more importantly, we're going to see history being made. We're excited about this trip. It means a lot to me," said Jim Baker of Cairo.

The cold, damp weather that greeted the group as they awaited the arrival of the bus didn't do anything to dampen the spirits of those who had waited a long time.

“I've been excited since Nov. 4. I knew then that I had to be there. I didn't know how I was going but I knew that I was going to be there. This is too much history for me to stay in Quincy," said Arie Battle.

Battle and fellow Red Hatter Emma Hall said they expected to meet more their Red Hatter sisters from around the nation at the inauguration or at some of the other public events. The anticipated freezing temperatures and the speculation that millions of people from around the world was not enough to persuade Dorothy Dennis to stay at home.

"I have my coat. I have warm clothes and I'm going to dress in layers so I should be OK," Dennis said.

Shaia Beckwith James took her son, Louis Zanders III, to the inauguration because she wanted him to witness one of the most significant days in history.

“It's important to me that he be there. He may not understand everything that is going on or the significance of what will happen Tuesday, but he will be able to share the experience with his children and grandchildren," she said.

Wilford Davis handed his wife, Mary, her pillow and blanket and gave her a kiss and a hug and had five words to say to her: "Have a good time, baby."

The group was scheduled to return Wednesday afternoon.