Winning the lottery doesn't mean millions of dollars for two area women.

What it means is that Donna Vunk of Edmeston and Joan Puritz of Oneonta will be able to attend the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

The two women said Thursday they were thrilled to have won tickets to attend the ceremony through a lottery held by Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica.

Arcuri, who received 198 tickets, received nearly 1,000 requests from the public, according to his spokeswoman, Marion Read.

A lottery was held last week to distribute the tickets, which will allow the bearer special access to the ceremony.

Inauguration festivities are expected to last four days and attract as many as 4 million people to the National Mall for the ceremony, according to organizers. Ticket holders will have access to an area near the ceremony, while the rest of the attendees will be able to view it from video screens set up along the mall.

"This is very exciting," Vunk said Thursday. "This is a very historical event to be at."

Vunk said she jumped up and down when she heard she'd won a pair of tickets during the drawing last Wednesday.

"I am so excited," Puritz said Thursday. "This is history. It means a lot to me."

Both women said they have family in the Washington, D.C. area and were planning to stay with them.

"My daughter and son-in-law live in D.C., and they are very into politics," Vunk said.

Vunk said her daughter called her soon after the election to tell her to contact Arcuri's office and request inauguration tickets.

After calling Arcuri's office, she was told there were a lot of names on the list.

"I kind of let it go," she said of her hope to attend the ceremony.

Puritz, who has a niece in the D.C. area, said she also wasn't too optimistic about her chances, but "it doesn't hurt to try."

House of Representatives members each received 198 tickets, while U.S. senators received 350. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who is holding his own lottery for tickets, received more than 100,000 requests.

Vunk said she is taking her husband with her to the ceremony. Puritz said her husband and two daughters are accompanying her to Washington, but her family hasn't yet decided who is getting the second ticket.

Both women said they will be traveling to Arcuri's office in Washington to pick up their tickets on Monday.


If you have good news you'd like to share, call Managing Editor Cary Brunswick at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 217; fax him at 432-5707; e-mail him at; or write to him at P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820.

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