Jim Carney

A Litchfield Middle School student was near the front of the line, eager to get a ticket to see President Barack Obama in Akron on Wednesday.

“He inspires me,” said seventh-grader Jaylen Bell, 12, who was in line Monday, nearly two hours before tickets were to be distributed. “To see that he is president makes me believe that I can do something big, too.”

Obama is scheduled to appear at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron. A “limited number” of tickets were made available to the public and all were handed out Monday.

Campaign officials would not specify an exact figure. A campaign stop at the convention center in February 2008 drew a crowd of 6,000.

Jaylen, his mother, Joan Bell, and his grandmother, Antoinette Bell, were among the throngs who waited in a long line outside Obama’s Akron campaign headquarters at Westgate Plaza on West Market Street.

Joan Bell, a language arts teacher at Jennings Middle School, said she and several members of her family saw Obama speak during his visit to Akron four years ago. “I think he is going to be great,” she said. “See this line of people who want to see him and hear what he has to say?”

Tickets were distributed first-come, first-served at the West Market Street office, the Knight Center and at Obama’s Twinsburg campaign office.

The president is scheduled to arrive at Akron-Canton Airport on Air Force One after a campaign appearance in Mansfield.

Downtown traffic is expected to be hectic Wednesday in the afternoon and evening as many streets will be shut down during the president’s visit. Police recommend drivers plan alternative routes.

The Akron appearance will be the president’s second visit to the area in as many months.

Obama spent the night in Fairlawn on July 5 after a campaign stop in Parma. He ate breakfast and visited with voters in Akron the following morning on his way to a campaign stop near Youngstown.

Presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has not yet visited Summit County, but he did stop in Brunswick in Medina County.

Marylou Turk, 81, of Richfield, a retired computer programmer, was in line after 9 a.m. to get her tickets to see Obama. So was Barb Blaser, 66, of Cuyahoga Falls, a retired Berea school counselor. Both women have never seen the president in person.

“I am thrilled to see him — absolutely,” Blaser said.

Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.