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Local Guest at State of The Union Address

Montana Native Larry Mayer Visits Washington D.C.


Larry Mayer, a Livingston native from the Park High class of ‘75, talks about his award-winning photo of the Chinese spy balloon taken on January 31, 2023. Larry has some advice on being at the State of the Union live or watching it on TV. Which is better?


He recently described his experience as an invited guest to the State of the Union Address on March 7th. Larry shared, “I arrived at Rep. Rosendale’s office on the morning of the speech and was briefed about the day’s activities with his staff. Next, I attended a hearing over BLM land-use issues with a Montana rancher. I then watched a dress rehearsal of the introduction of guests and the POTUS. Next on the agenda were several interviews with national news organizations about the balloon photograph.


“At 6 pm, I went to the Capitol, got through security, and took my seat in the gallery. Security for the event takes hours. I was seated next to Heather, a Columbine student survivor, now 42 years old, and the swimmer Riley Gaines. The security personnel take everything away from guests, including phones and watches.


“After all the introductions, the speech didn’t start until after 9 pm. You are honestly better off watching it on TV, as the echo in the upper deck made it impossible to understand much of what was said by President Biden.


“We were finally able to leave, about an hour after the address. I surprisingly ran into Heather from Columbine again on New Jersey Street trying to hail a cab back to her hotel. That turned out to be close to impossible, as no traffic can come into the beltway when the Presidential Motorcade is moving. I volunteered to walk her back to her hotel. I arrived back at my hotel at 1 am. I made a note to self: Avoid walking outside the beltway after midnight.”


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