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Long Islanders clamor to get Obama inauguration tickets

Mark X. Cronin, Long Island grassroots coordinator for Barack Obama, came on board the campaign with his wife, Carol Schlitt, in July 2007, and volunteered hundreds of hours, including 60-plus hours a week toward the end.

"The one request that my wife made was, 'I'd like to go to an inaugural ball,' " said the Huntington Bay resident.

They're still waiting to find out if they will.

Cronin said he hasn't yet learned how the Obama team plans to distribute tickets they control for the Jan. 20 inauguration. But, like others closely connected to the campaign, he's getting flooded with calls and e-mails from people who want them.

Members of Congress will get 240,000 free tickets about a week before the inauguration to distribute to the public, who have been barraging them with calls.

Marching bands that want to participate in the inaugural parade have to apply to the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee by 5 p.m. Friday. The Presidential Inaugural Committee will choose the participants.

Inaugural officials are warning the public not to believe Web sites or brokers claiming to have inauguration tickets to sell. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said she is drafting a bill to make it a federal crime to scalp inaugural tickets and has contacted online sites to urge them not to sell any.

Suffolk County Legis. Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Neck), Obama's Long Island campaign chairman and a member of his national finance committee, said he'd try to give preference to volunteers if he is given any tickets to distribute.

"I went through the phase a couple of months ago where everyone was calling me to get tickets to the convention, then everyone was calling to get tickets to the Hofstra debate, and now everyone is calling to get tickets to the inauguration and, in some cases, the inaugural balls," he said.

One ticket he wants is to the Illinois State ball. After all, that's where the Obamas are from.

"It's going to be wild," he said. "I think it'll be an inauguration unlike any we've ever seen before, just the fact that it's going to be Barack Obama."

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