Politics & Government

For one Kansas family, it was worth the early start, long wait to see inauguration

Allen Olson, left, and his son, Paddy, of Wichita, Kansas, attended Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump.
Allen Olson, left, and his son, Paddy, of Wichita, Kansas, attended Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump. McClatchy

Allen Olson and his 13-year-old son, Paddy, are tired.

They’ve been up since 3:30 a.m., and they got through the security checkpoint by 6:30, well before sunrise. By early afternoon, they haven’t had anything to eat or drink all day.

But it was worth all the waiting, and all the standing, on a cold, wet January day to see in person the inauguration of the nation’s 45th president, Donald Trump.

“It was just an incredible experience to hear our new president,” Allen Olson said.

Olson, an attorney for Koch Industries, arrived Wednesday with Paddy and his wife, Kelly. But they only got two tickets from Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo’s office. Kelly Olson stayed at the hotel and watched everything on TV.

Paddy Olson used binoculars to see the dignitaries.

“I’ve never experienced seeing the most powerful man in the world, or one of the most, just a few hundred yards away,” he said. “It was just incredible.”

While sporting a Trump hat, a Trump sweatshirt and three pro-Trump buttons, Paddy Olson said he was glad to see the candidate Trump whom defeated in November, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

“It was cool to see them,” Paddy Olson said. “Hillary looked good for, you know, the past events.”

Through his binoculars, Paddy also was able to recognize First Lady Melania Trump, former presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, and members of the Supreme Court.

“I kind of just knew that was Jimmy Carter,” said Paddy Olson, who was born during George W. Bush’s presidency. “All the other ones I recognized.”

“I saw Pompeo when he was walking with the Cabinet members,” he added.

Pompeo, of Wichita, Trump’s nominee to head the CIA, was supposed to get a Senate confirmation vote on Friday, but three Democrats blocked it over Trump’s feud with the intelligence community.

The Olsons said they’d been interviewed by several media outlets, including a Slovenian TV station. Slovenia is Melania Trump’s birthplace.

On Thursday, they also found themselves on display in front of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Olsons were profiled in a front-page story in the Wichita Eagle before they left for Washington. The Newseum displays newspaper front pages from each state every day.

“People would walk by and say, ‘Hey, you’re them,’” Allen Olson said. “That was an odd experience.”

They stayed by their front page for about an hour.

“It was interesting just to talk to people there,” Allen Olson said.

They’re staying in town until Sunday afternoon, which means they’ll be around during Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, whose participants are not fans of Trump.

“I’m a fervent supporter of peaceful protest,” Allen Olson said.

They won’t be marching, but they’ll spend their remaining time in Washington seeing Ford’s Theater, the Supreme Court and maybe Arlington Cemetery.

As for Trump’s speech, Allen Olson said he takes everything involving politicians and their visions with a grain of salt. Still, he said he was enthusiastic about Trump’s presidency.

“I thought it was a fine speech,” Allen Olson said. “I thought he laid out his vision for America.”

“It’s a great day,” he said.

Curtis Tate: 202-383-6018, @tatecurtis