Witness to history
Locals make trek to inauguration

CONYERS - Alonzo Hill opens a folder on his desk at Regency Barber and Salon in Honey Creek and inside is a collection of sticky notes, scribbled with names and phone numbers that tell the story of what it has taken to organize a bus trip to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

Hill is just one of several local residents heading to Washington, either by themselves or with a larger group, for the inauguration. Some have tickets, but most, like those traveling with Hill, do not. Regardless, everyone who's going said they wanted to be there to witness history.

Hill said it has been a draining experience ever since he planned to organize a bus trip to the inauguration. At one point it seemed that he would not get enough people to fill the charter bus and break even on expenses. However, after Christmas he was able to partner with another barber shop in Cobb County.

Asked what he will do once they get on the National Mall in Washington, Hill was reflective.

"I will be relieved that we made it because I've shifted to the now where I'm catering to 55 people," he said. "It's not about me and I hope I can get to a point where I can appreciate what's going on rather than making sure everybody else is taken care of."

Hill's trip will be just for the day. The group's bus will pull out from his Conyers barber shop Monday evening, pick up the others in Gwinnett County and head north. The bus is scheduled to arrive at a Metro train station Tuesday morning. After the inauguration, the group will turn around and come back home in the early morning hours Wednesday.

Hill said they will likely watch the swearing-in ceremony from one of several jumbotron screens the National Parks Service is installing along the National Mall.

"I want to see the camaraderie - black, white, Chinese, Hispanic people coming together," he said. "I truly believe the world will stand still at that moment."

Sharon and Forrest Sawyer Jr. of Covington received their tickets to the inauguration ceremony in the mail on Monday.

"We were one of the blessed and fortunate to receive tickets from our congressman. It was such an honor. We didn't start preparing to go until we had the tickets in our hands," Sharon Sawyer said.

With all flights booked, the Sawyers decided to make the 10-hour drive. They'll stay with a friend, a professor living in Boston, who already has accommodations.

"The most important thing is, where are we going to eat, because all of the restaurants are going to be jam-packed," she said.

Danny Scott is organizing the trip for 24 fellow church members at Pleasant Hill CME Church in Conyers. They planned to drive into Washington, D.C., Saturday to take in the inauguration's kick-off concert today. On Monday the group will attend a concert at the National Cathedral in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and then another concert at the Kennedy Center later.

Scott said he has been planning the trip since August and was able to secure three tickets to the inauguration. His group plans to stay in a hotel in Dulles, Va., and travel into town by commuter train.

"It is a lifetime experience for a lot of people young and old," Scott said. "I'm taking my whole family. Just the idea of being there in the presence of what's going on."

Newton Citizen Staff Reporter Crystal Tatum contributed to this article.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com