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Crashing JFK’s Inauguration

When they were college students, future Cleveland city councilwoman Mary Zunt and future congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar sneaked into John F. Kennedy’s snowy inauguration — and his speech inspired their lives’ paths.
Mary Zunt
I went to Washington determined to attend the inauguration of Jack Kennedy, the first president I could vote for, with only the assurance of a hotel room. Mary Rose Oakar, then a classmate of mine at Ursuline College, traveled with me, and nine other friends were to meet us there.

By 10 o’clock that night, it was obvious they were all staying with us. Every room in the city was booked.

A blanket of snow, peppered with stalled cars and deserted trucks, was countered by men on the back of 10-ton trucks sprinkling salt by hand. People walked. Adlai Stevenson deserted his car, stuck on the freeway, to thumb a ride on a semi into the city. People weren’t attending events. Seats needed to be filled. It was ideal for crashers.

The following day, Mary Rose and I went to the historic Park Sheraton in Woodley Park to see if we could attend the Governors of the States reception. It was a snazzy event by invitation only. We’d crash; there was no other way.

Check back Nov. 1 for the full story.

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