Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Dressed up and ready to go: The inaugural date night one senator saved

By Allison Brennan, CNN
updated 10:56 AM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
Sharon and Blake Ilstrup, with their children Anna and Alec, received inaugural ball tickets from Sen. Patty Murray.
Sharon and Blake Ilstrup, with their children Anna and Alec, received inaugural ball tickets from Sen. Patty Murray.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Seattle couple was shut out of inaugural ball tickets after ticket vendor mix-up
  • Sen. Patty Murray heard about the story and offered them ball tickets
  • Spokesman: "She told staff that she thought 'their enjoyment was the best use of my tickets"

Washington (CNN) -- Thanks to Sen. Patty Murray, Sharon and Blake Ilstrup can have their big inauguration date night after all.

Last week, the Seattle-area couple, along with many others, were shut out of the first-come, first-served official Presidential Inaugural Ball ticket sales when a mistake by Ticketmaster, the ticket vendor, inadvertently released tickets for both the inaugural ball and parade early, as CNN first reported.

Ticketmaster and the Presidential Inaugural Ball later apologized for the mix-up, but thousands of potential partygoers were upset and flocked to Facebook and social media demanding a remedy.

So the Ilstrups -- who had planned on breaking out their finest formal outfits for Monday night -- found themselves and their two kids headed to Washington with no ball tickets in hand.

But after seeing their story on a Seattle TV station Friday morning, Murray, a Democrat from Washington state, came to the rescue. Murray called her office and told them to track the couple down.

Obamas party with 30,000 close friends

U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to dance with first lady Michelle Obama at the Commander-in-Chief Ball on Monday,January 21, 2013 in Washington. Obama was sworn in for his second term as president during a public Inauguration earlier in the day. U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to dance with first lady Michelle Obama at the Commander-in-Chief Ball on Monday,January 21, 2013 in Washington. Obama was sworn in for his second term as president during a public Inauguration earlier in the day.
Party politics at the 2013 inaugural balls
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: The 2013 inaugural balls Photos: The 2013 inaugural balls
DNC chair on inaugural address

"Sen. Murray was touched by how much effort (the Ilstrups) had made to try to go to the ball and felt (terrible) that even though they were online so early an error dashed their hopes," Murray spokesman Matt McAlvanah told CNN. "She told staff that she thought 'their enjoyment was the best use of my tickets.' "

But Sharon Ilstrup said the office had a hard time tracking them down in time since the family had already left for Washington. Finally, just hours before the big event, the office was able to locate her cell phone number and made the connection.

The Ilstrups, who planned the almost 2,800-mile trip to Washington as a part of an educational experience for their two children, Alec, 14 and Anna, 11, were touring the National Mall on Sunday when they got the call from Murray's office offering them the tickets.

"We just walked across the street," Ilstrup said. The Russell Senate Office Building, where Murray's office is located, is a couple of blocks from the Capitol and a hop, skip and a jump from the Mall. "They were so excited to give it to us."

Murray's office later tweeted a picture of the happy family.

While Alec and Anna won't be attending the ball with their parents, they won't miss out on all of the fun. The whole family will attend the President Barack Obama's second inauguration ceremony on the western front of the U.S. Capitol, with tickets they secured from U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Washington.

With her gown secured, Sharon Ilstrup, an Obama supporter, said she was most looking forward to the ball for "the energy."

"Just being there and the energy of the day ... just to be a part of another celebration of Barack Obama and of our country and not to be in my hotel room packing to go home."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
2013 Presidential Inauguration
updated 9:53 AM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
It was a seemingly wistful moment at the halfway mark of his presidency, before the celebratory parade and the evening's galas.
updated 6:50 PM EST, Mon January 21, 2013
CNN contributors and analysts offered these assessments of the 44th's president's inauguration.
updated 5:18 PM EST, Mon January 21, 2013
Here's a look at the inauguration from your perspective, submitted via iReport.
updated 5:34 AM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
As the nation celebrated the start of another term for President Obama, Republican congressional leaders had a muted, bipartisan response to his second inaugural address.
updated 11:23 AM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
The alternating red and blue yard signs are long gone, and people here have gone back to familiar rhythms of life.
updated 10:00 AM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
President Obama began his second term with a "keeping it real" moment courtesy of youngest daughter Sasha.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
What a difference four years makes. It's a tale of two terms, marked by battles to come and tasks not yet completed from 4 years ago.
updated 10:11 AM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
Richard Blanco grew up a Cuban immigrant and gay, and says it speaks to America's strengths that he was chosen to read a poem to the nation.
updated 9:49 AM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama spent the evening at more intimate affairs: 30,000 guests at two inaugural balls.
President Barack Obama said Monday in his inaugural speech that the nation must come together to meet the challenges of the day, saying: "We are made for this moment, and we will seize it - so long as we seize it together."
updated 12:07 PM EST, Mon January 21, 2013
Hear President Obama recite the oath of office at his second inauguration.
updated 12:03 PM EST, Mon January 21, 2013
Vice President Joe Biden takes his public oath of office for a second term.
updated 1:48 PM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
An American flag waves at the U.S. Capitol building on Sunday, January 20, as Washington prepares for President Barack Obama's second inauguration. CNN brings you the best images from Washington.
updated 12:43 PM EST, Mon January 21, 2013
Watch presidents from the last 100 years take the oath of office on inauguration day.
ADVERTISEMENT