CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of people lined up outside McCormick Place in the bitter cold Saturday morning to get free tickets to President Barack Obama’s farewell speech next week.
The Obama administration finished distributing the tickets in less than three hours after the first ones were given out.
Lines snaked through two buildings, and outside onto the plaza, with many people arriving before dawn. Some huddled under blankets over their heavy winter clothing, to keep warm amid single-digit temperatures.
People waiting for tickets said they wanted to be part of history.
“It’s well worth it. I got my golden ticket, and I can’t wait to see Obama,” Jay Rashid said.
Etta McChristian was the first one in line.
“It was just a great thing to do to get out in the morning this morning, and get in line, and be the first one in,”
While tickets were not given out until 8 a.m., shortly before 7 a.m. police announced anyone who wasn’t already in line should not bother coming to McCormick Place, because the line for tickets had already reached capacity for the speech.
By 10:45 a.m., McCormick Place announced the White House had finished distributing all of the tickets. The Obama administration has not said how many tickets were being given out for the speech.
Many who showed up at McCormick Place weren’t lucky enough to get tickets.
Eight-year-old Gabrielle Primus and her family stood in line in the building across the street, along with hundreds of others. It appears, as they waited their turn, many outside cut in line.
“There was like thousands of people over there thinking that they were going to get tickers just lined up,” Brittany Cotton said.
It didn’t take long for the tickets that were handed out on Saturday to start showing up for sale on Craigslist and other sites. Some listings were asking for as much as $5,000 per ticket.
The president will give his farewell address on Tuesday evening at McCormick Place. Doors will open at 5 p.m., but those with tickets have been asked to arrive early. The White House has said the speech will begin at 8 p.m.