Darlene Ford of Kansas City admitted Monday her reason for standing in line for a ticket to see President Barack Obama when he’s in Kansas City this week was a bit self-centered.
“The speech that the president is giving is on the economy, and everyone should obviously be in interested in that,” Ford said.
She was the first person in line, getting to the Uptown Theater at 9 a.m. Sunday.
“Quite frankly, my reasons were a little more selfish. I want to be able to tell my grandchildren that I saw a president, that I saw a sitting president.”
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Ford was one of several hundred people who lined up outside the Uptown, 3700 Broadway, where Obama will speak about 11 a.m. Wednesday.
The speech, which reportedly will focus on the economy, is open to the public, but people had to get tickets, which were handed out beginning at 9 a.m. Monday.
By that time, the line stretched more than two blocks blocks from the theater’s front door west along Valentine Road before it curled around Pennsylvania Avenue.
Ford, who showed signs of being awake more than 24 hours, said she looked forward to hearing what Obama’s plans were for the next two years.
“I feel like I’ve had a little bit to do at least with him being where he’s at,” said Ford, who campaigned for Obama both times he ran for president.
“I pounded a lot of pavement, and I’m really proud of what he’s been able to accomplish so far.”
Goldia Kiteck of Overland Park, who arrived at the Uptown about 9:30 p.m. Sunday with several friends, said they wanted show their support for the president.
“There’s not a lot of opportunities to see the president, so when one pops up, you gotta be here,” she said. “We are just looking to see what he has to say and how he’s going to finish out his term as president.”
Kiteck said she hoped Obama addresses student loans and financial aid so that more people can have access to higher education.
“I’m going into college, and I’d love a little more financial aid — I’m sure we all would,” she said. She said that would allow “many people who haven’t had a chance to go into college before or they are first generation college students a better chance to get into the workforce and get the higher paying jobs that we need.”
When Raul Gonzales of Kansas City, North, arrived about midnight, there weren’t many people in line.
“How many times does someone get to really see the president speak?” he asked. “This is the first time I’ve ever see a president speak. It will be the first time my friend will see the president speak — or my dad. I thought it would be an interesting event to go watch.”
Gonzales said he hoped Obama would address the minimum wage.
“If people get living wages, they will be able to pay their bills and they won’t have to rely on government programs as much so there would be less government assistance,” he said. “I believe you shouldn’t raise it too high. There should be a general raise over a few years time span.”
Marilyn Eferakeya of Kansas City, Kan., brought her grandchildren and jumped in line at 5:30 a.m.. By then, the line stretched more than a block and a half.
“We did come earlier last night, but we weren’t prepared to stay, so we had came back” Eferakeya said. “I would like to tell Obama that I support him, he’s doing a good job no matter what the Republicans say about him. He is doing a fantastic job.”
Diamond Holt and Janae Jamison, both of Shawnee, said they saw Obama speak in October 2008 at the Liberty Memorial.
“We were really, really far away, and we couldn’t see him,” Diamond and Janae said together. “We could hear him, but we couldn’t see him.”
They hope to get a better look this time. Eferakeya confessed she was just as excited as her grandchildren about seeing Obama.
“He’s the president of the United States,” she said. “He’s the first black president, and he’s a good-looking man.”