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Obama mania

Erin McComb and Josh Bohmbach are flying out this weekend to Washington, D.C. to see Barack Obama become the President of the United States. Photo by Laura Kruse

Attending a presidential inauguration is on two Hammond residents' "To do Before I Die" lists.

"When you're of voting age, you will only have roughly 15 inaugurations in your lifetime. A few have passed me by already," said Josh Bohmbach. "Since we worked on this campaign, trying to go was a no-brainer."

Thanks to a series of lucky happenings and will power, Erin McComb and Bohmbach will be flying to Washington D.C. on Saturday to attend Barack Obama's inauguration as President of the United States.

Getting there wasn't a no-brainer.

The family was on their way home from vacation in August when they decided to detour through Springfield, Ill., where Obama was supposed to announce Joe Biden as his running mate.

There were 25,000 people, and the temperature was a hot 95 degrees, McComb said.

"It was the most unbelievable, joyous, awesome experience," she ranted. "It was history in the making."

After that rally, the couple decided that if Obama won, they would try to go to the inauguration. They booked their flights to Washington the next day, and sent ticket requests to all the Wisconsin congressmen online.

The pair also set up an Obama office in their home. They canvassed Hammond, Roberts, Baldwin and Woodville for the campaign, and set up a phone bank.

With hotels very expensive and rooms hard to come by, McComb said she started searching to find a place to stay.

Thousands of people in the area were offering up rooms, driveways for RVs and yards for tents on the site.

"It was crazy," she said.

The couple even offered a house swap - they'd stay in a Washington resident's house and that person would head to Hammond to live in theirs.

McComb said she spent a night sending customized form e-mails to every reasonable offer on CraigsList.

One ad that triggered her interest offered a free room in exchange for good karma, she said.

"I thought it was a joke, but I sent it in anyway," she laughed.

Bohmbach teased her when she replied to the ad. "I thought there's no way someone would give a room for free," he said.

Among McComb's replies from her mass e-mailing was a message from the man, offering the couple his room.

Since then, the three have been in e-mail and phone contact. McComb said they're no longer worried about him being an axe-murderer.

"He's just a really nice guy," she said. "In the end we'll walk away with a new friend."

The next step in their journey was to get tickets to the actual inauguration. McComb said they were planning to join in the festivities on the Mall if they couldn't get any.

Luck would strike again.

"Miraculously, we got a call from Ron Kind's office, saying we were picked," she said.

They won't know where their seats are until they get to Washington; however, McComb and Bohmbach are happy just to be going.

Even though they can't take their three kids along, they have plans to keep them involved in the experience.

McComb has been planning with her fourth grade son Griffin's teacher. Since January is Black History month, the Baldwin-Woodville teacher is planning to incorporate the inauguration in her unit.

The couple will contribute with e-mails, blogging and using other technology as much as possible.

They're also planning to visit the other two branches of government for the class.

"He (Griffin) is very excited," McComb said. "He's proud of the work we did for the election."

There were only 25,000 tickets printed for the inauguration. Fewer than 400 Wisconsin residents will be there.

"It's pretty special (to go)," McComb said. "Any attendance is historic. This one is personal to us and we're thrilled to go."