CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Graduation day is all about excitement and celebrating your achievements with family and friends, but many graduates at Memorial Auditorium didn't get that experience. Their family members weren't allowed inside, because the building was over capacity.
Channel 3 Eyewitness News found a noisy and crowded sight at Memorial Auditorium before noon Saturday morning, old and young ready for the graduation festivities to begin. The only problem is commencement is already well underway inside.
"We traveled from Athens to be with them to see our niece graduate," said Joe Lenior. "We waited for this moment."
"They shut the door," said Alisha White who came to see her cousin graduate. The fire marshall said no one else can come in. They're too packed."
Friends and family members cleaned, pressed and stuck outside the building.
"It's a little ridiculous that we can't see our own family members graduate," said White.
White's statement is one officials at Chattanooga State Community College agree with.
"I'm sure there were many disappointments," said college president assistant, Joe Helseth.
With over 1,400 graduates the class is by far the college's biggest to graduate at once.
"We did everything we could to let them in," said Helseth. "Finally the fire marshall allowed it."
After the fire marshall initially turned people away college officials were able to get another 175 inside, and slowly more were let in as others left.
"We'll have to look at some scenario that will be different for the next ceremony," said Helseth. "Split graduation or a different location. We'll come up with something to alleviate this problem."
However, for those stuck outside Saturday it's still disappointing.
"She wanted her family to be there to congratulate her," says White. "We're not even there to watch."