A Different Kind of Blog

news and things sacred and irreverent put together by opinionated people.

Businessman plans inaugural party for the people

Posted by tothewire on December 8, 2008

Earl Stafford is a Virginia businessman helping the disadvantaged see the inauguration.

Earl Stafford is a Virginia businessman helping the disadvantaged see the inauguration.


— As Washington gears up for January’s presidential inauguration with high-priced tickets to fancy affairs, one businessman is making sure that some of the less fortunate will have a chance to share in the festivities.

Virginia businessman Earl Stafford has spent $1 million to give hundreds of poverty-stricken and terminally ill Americans, along with wounded men and women in uniform, an inauguration experience that won’t cost them anything.

The zero-dollar price tag is even more shocking, considering that tickets to the inaugural events are going for hundreds of dollars, the city’s remaining hotel rooms are edging into four-figure territory, and even basements and couches miles from the National Mall are going for a premium on Craigslist.

Tickets for the inauguration are distributed through members of Congress, and just 240,000 seats are available for the swearing-in ceremony. The tickets are supposed to be free, but with demand outpacing supply, some people have been trying to scalp tickets for thousands of dollars.

Stafford’s event is one of the splashiest inauguration packages out there. It includes high-end hotel rooms and luxury suites, food and drinks, a heated viewing spot right above the parade route, even gowns and tuxedos to wear to celebratory balls and a beautician to help attendees get ready.

Hours after the election, Stafford, a 60-year-old businessman and son of a Baptist minister, invested in what the JW Marriott billed as its $1 million “build-your-own-ball” inaugural hotel package.

His family’s nonprofit foundation, the Stafford Foundation, is footing the bill for what it is calling the People’s Inaugural Project, but it is also hoping to get money from sponsors.

Stafford said Thursday that he hopes the balcony terrace is filled “with those who are disadvantaged, those who are distressed, mingling with those who aren’t so. And we hope to see on their faces a sense of excitement.”

“I was inspired to do this by the Lord. … It’s not about us but about us helping other people,” he said.

At least third of the tickets to the event will go toward people who are needy or underprivileged, and the rest of those participating could be people from sponsoring foundations, companies or volunteers.

Everything, he said, will be taken care of: transportation, evening gowns and tuxedos for the ball.

He hopes that providing a front row seat to history will inspire those invited to do good things in their communities.

Stafford said he began thinking about the project in March. He voted for Barack Obama, and records show he contributed $4,600 to the Democrat’s campaign, according to the Washington Post.

Stafford, a retired Air Force officer, noted that he does not agree with all of Obama’s positions. But, he told the paper, he decided the inauguration would be “a transition in history, if you will … and everyone should be included.”




7 Responses to “Businessman plans inaugural party for the people”

  1. […] Businessman plans inaugural party for the people « A Different … […]


  2. Gloria S. Talbert said

    Hi,my name is Gloria Talbert and I am writing on behalf of a woman who will be turning 103 years old in March of 2009. Her name is Ms. Ella Kelly and resides in Minnesota. She has expressed an interest in coming to the inaugural ball, but can not afford the tremendous expense of doing so. I just happened to see on television where Mr. William Earl Stafford was sponsoring some people to come to the inauguration with all expenses paid. I have already sought her permission to write this letter to see if by chance she could be priveleged enought to become one of the honored attendees. The smile on her face when I mentioned that I was going to write this letter is one that I will never forget. I have known Mother Kelly for the past few years and would go to see her at least once per month just to say hi and to listen to her because she has so much wisdom to give. I love her as though she is my own mother and have seen the impact that she has had on the lives of others and how much she is loved by others as well. Mother Kelly would be most honored and humbled if she was chosen as one of the people to attend this most honored event. She expressed to me that she never thought in her lifetime “that she would ever get to see a black person become president”. I happen to see on television where one lady is attending that has turned 100 years old and that this woman was a hairdresser in her former years, well, Mrs. Ella Kelly was also a hairdresser in her former years and I thought it would be great if the two could meet. What an honored occasion that would be if the two women could observe this momentus occasion together and share their experiences over the past century. Please if you get this letter – could you please respond by writing to gloria.talbert@atk.com or by calling (daytime) 952 351-2705 or by calling my home number at 651 228-0888 or by calling me on the weekend at 651-225-9357. I happen to work at a homeless shelter on weekends – just Saturday and Sunday (10 hours per day). You can also respond by writing to Attn: Gloria Talbert – 172 6th Street East, St. Paul, MN. 55101. I am praying that this letter reach the right person at the right time and that someone will find reason to honor this request. Thanks so much and have a blessed day.


  3. […] Businessman plans inaugural party for the people « A Different … […]


  4. H.Hill said

    I would like Mr. Stafford to speak at our church for Black history in February. We have been focusing on youth in prayer and the Lord has blessed us to have a wonderful group of former youth addicts, dealers, thieves, the hurting and rejected to come and give their lives to the Lord in the last 3 months. Its a mighty move of God here in Richmond. I’m believing God to have Mr. Stafford get this e-mail and respond affirmatively to the glory of God. What an impact his presence and encouragement would make on these young people here!!!!


  5. Lawman2 said

    went to your site H Hill,and my wife enjoyed it very much!

    others who would like to visit this well put together site should click here: http://nbtm.net/


  6. tothewire said

    I really enjoyed the Thought Of the Week on the site http://nbtm.net/Images/ThoughtOfWeek/ThoughtOfWeek070608.htm


  7. tothewire said

    I just read the comment from Gloria…have you already responded to this lawman?


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