I arrived at the Belgrade City Hall at about 8:15 a.m. By the time I parked my car and walked the three blocks to City Hall, the hundreds of people who were in line were already dispersing. The media advisory said tickets would be made available at 9 a.m., but by 8:15 a.m. they were all snapped up.
The man who was informing people in line that the tickets were gone said there were only 150 tickets available at the Belgrade City Hall.
Most of the people who got the tickets had been in line since yesterday afternoon. Great Falls resident Walter Brown, 86, and his wheelchair-bound grandson, Patrick McCarthy, 21, were in line by 4 p.m. Wednesday. (More on Walter and Patrick in tomorrow’s Trib).
The vast majority of people in line—including those who got tickets—appeared to be Obama supporters. I did talk to a Helena couple opposed to the President’s health care plan who got tickets. I didn’t get the sense that there were many opponents—Tea Party members or otherwise—waiting in line for tickets.
By the time I got to Bozeman, at about 9:05 a.m., the line at city hall was gone. There were still a few people standing around signing petitions in favor of health care reform, but the tickets went fast. The police officers who were managing the scene said there were only 634 tickets available. Since each person could get two tickets, that means only 317 or so were lucky enough to get tickets in Bozeman, and 75 people scored tickets in Belgrade.
I called the White House press office to try to find out how many people in all will be invited to the event, but I haven’t heard back. Rumor has it there will be a lot more than 784 people at the event, but I haven’t confirmed that.
Keep checking The Lowdown for the latest information and be sure to read tomorrow’s Great Falls Tribune for news and analysis of President Barack Obama’s health care town hall. I'll bring the laptop and hopefully I'll be able to do a bit of blogging from the scene. No promises on that front though. It could get crazy.