Like Cubs or White Sox fans booking their World Series seats at the All-Star Break, Illinois residents are snapping up tickets to celebrate Barack Obama's potential inauguration in Washington next year.
Never mind that native-son Obama is running barely ahead or statistically tied with Republican John McCain in recent polls. The Illinois State Society of Washington, D.C., reports that corporate and individual interest in its traditional, bi-partisan inaugural gala is "running far ahead of previous years" some six months before the next president takes office.
The Society has held inaugural celebrations dating back to 1861, when another local boy, Abraham Lincoln, entered the White House. In recent decades, the Society reports, its parties have been second only to Texas (where, to be fair, everything is bigger) among state-society festivities in D.C.
This year, the Illinois folks opened ticket sales early, anticipating an Obama-inspired surge.