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Published: Friday, 2/22/2008

Enthusiastic crowd lines up early for Obama rally tickets


There was a human traffic jam Friday morning in downtown Toledo, as people streamed through the doors of the City Grill restaurant to get preferred tickets to hear Illinois Sen. Barack Obama speak this weekend.

The presidential hopeful is slated to speak at a "Keeping America s Promise" rally Sunday afternoon at University of Toledo s Savage Hall.

Just before 9 a.m., the crowd at the restaurant lobby, which opened at 6:30 a.m., was about 30 people strong. A short line was moving fast but cars kept pulling up at the curb, dropping off passengers, and slowing traffic on Huron Street near One Government Center.

"I am very happy and excited [to get the tickets]," said Joe Beckler, 58, director of real estate for the Lucas County Treasurer s Office.

Mr. Beckler stopped by to get four tickets for himself and his family members on his way to work, he said.

"Barack Obama is the most exciting candidate that we ve had for many, many years. I would not miss this opportunity to hear him speak for anything," he said.

Andy Tisdale, 62, a retired Chrysler auto worker, said he drove downtown for one reason only: to get a ticket.

"I just want to hear him speak," Mr. Tisdale said.

Some of the people who were getting tickets were also buying food from Jenny Beczynski, 42, the kitchen manager for the restaurant.

"I m a Hillary [Clinton] fan so I did not get a ticket," Ms. Beczynski said with a smile. "But we sure sold a lot of food today."

People are being handed applications to vote early at the Lucas County Board of Elections office just a block away. A source in the campaign said the restaurant at 421 North Huron St. was chosen to distribute tickets because of its proximity to the elections office.

Doors to the Obama event open at 2:15 p.m. Sunday and the program starts at 4:20 p.m.

Also holding a rally in Toledo is Mr. Obama s rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton s rally, "Solutions for America," starts at 9 o clock tonight at Whitmer High School. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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