Family turn away from presidential event

UFW Overbooks Dedication Ceremony

Thousands of people who were originally confirmed to attend an event in Keene where President Barack Obama established the Cesar Chavez National Monument had to be turn away.

It was the chance of a lifetime for local resident Marie Lenzi, whose parents were farm workers, to see the president. But it turned out to be a disappointment she will never forget.

"I'm not supposed to be at work today, but I'm here," said Lenzi.

That's because she was supposed to be in Keene with thousands of others to witness the historic event.

"I was so excited; I was telling the world I was going. I was on top of the mountain. I wanted to see Obama because I haven't made up my mind who I'm going to vote for yet. I also wanted to see the Cesar Chavez Monument and be a part of history," said Lenzi.

Lenzi said she registered online with the United Farm Workers Union to attend last week.

'The great majority of people who attended the event are members of the public who responded to the invitation to sign up online," said Mark Grossman of the United Farm Workers Union.

Lenzi said she received an approval confirmation email last Thursday to attend and then she RSVP'd, but last Sunday, she received another email from the UFW explaining that the event was full.

"We reached out to many people regrettably informing them that they won't be able to attend. We were even making phone calls to as many other people as possible to let them know we were filled to capacity," said Grossman.

The Lenzi family was devastated. She and husband both took time off work to attend. Unfortunately Marie's husband lost his wages for the day because he was unable to reschedule his shift.

"We are out about $400. It was very emotional to be let down like that after I was confirmed, only to be given a story that they were letting other people in that were not confirmed, that's not fair," said Lenzi.

Officials at the UFW said that once they opened the event for the public to register to attend online, the response was overwhelming and the event was overbooked.

"We realize that people feel so passionately about Cesar and the farm workers and the opportunity to witness this historic event. It was far beyond our capacity to handle everybody who wanted to attend," said Grossman.

More than 2,000 people who registered had to be turned away because of capacity limitations.
Lenzi said the Farm Workers Union should have been better organized in the planning for the event.

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