Although the federal government shutdown caused major headaches for many last October, there were a few silver linings for some, like Blue Knob native Kara Williams.
What started out as a thwarted visit to a national landmark turned into a round on a popular TV game show that airs today.
Kara, her mom and three other relatives make an annual vacation trip and last year's trip was extra special because they were celebrating Kara's 21st birthday.
Kara Williams of Blue Knob (second from left) and her family members are shown on the “The Price is Right” set. From left: Glenda McLendon, Macon, Ga.; Kara; Velma 'Cheryle' Williams, Blue Knob; Nancy 'Audrey' Spires, Eastman, Ga.; and Judy Benton, Trenton, Fla.
Kara already had her destination in mind.
"For my 21st birthday, I knew I wanted to go to [Las] Vegas,'' she said.
When they were planning the trip, which was in October, they wanted to include a visit to the Grand Canyon, but that was during the government shutdown, so they decided to make a trip to Hollywood, Calif., instead, Kara said.
Her family has always liked the game show, "The Price is Right,'' so her mom went online to see how they could get tickets to the show.
Her mom also got all five of them pink shirts to wear to the show. Pink is the color for breast cancer awareness, which is highlighted in October.
"It really wasn't hard at all to get the tickets,'' Kara said.
The day of the show, they even got an e-mail saying that they would be guaranteed to get on the show if they showed up.
They arrived at the studio at 8 a.m. with about 300 other people and were given the big, distinctive name tags that audience members wear on the show.
They had to sign a waiver promising that they wouldn't discuss anything about the show before it aired on TV, Kara said.
The group had their photo taken then were interviewed individually by a show producer, who asked each one of them questions, such as where they were from and what they did for a living. Following the interviews, they had lunch, which is the only thing they had to pay for, Kara said.
Tickets to get into the show are free, she said.
Finally, it was time to tape the show.
Show personnel directed everyone to specific areas.
"It's so much louder than you think it is,'' she said. "Everybody is just screaming.''
Which is why when the announcer calls out names for people to "Come on down,'' another person off to the side also holds up a card that has the person's name on it. Kara said she was not only listening to hear what name was called, but also watching to see what name was on the card that was held up. When she saw her name on the card, she was out of her seat in a flash.
"I just jumped up and I was down the aisle,'' she said. "I don't think my family even realized what had happened, that they'd even called my name.''
When it came time to enter a bid on the item onstage, she said it's true that it's a lot harder that it looks from your living room. She looked for help from her family who were yelling their thoughts but of course she couldn't hear them. The audience was trying to add its ideas but it all just seemed a confusing jumble, she said. Whatever bid she made must have been a good one, because Kara ended up winning that round and went up onstage with host Drew Carey.
"He is funny,'' she said. "I went running up there because I was so excited but he was very kind.''
Once on stage, Kara got to play one of the show's games but she can't say how she did because of the waiver she signed. The episode she's in airs today at 11 a.m. on CBS.
A representative for the show said two shows are taped daily several months ahead of the time they are shown on TV. No one knows before they start taping who will get to be contestants from the pool of audience members. Anyone can get tickets to the show by going to the show's website, www.priceisright.com, and requesting them.
Kara, who is currently in training in Georgia to be a conductor for the Norfolk Southern Railway, said her day on "The Price is Right'' was long but a lot of fun. She and her family also did get to see the Grand Canyon on the way home, which had re-opened by that time.
"[The show] was awesome, your adrenaline is just pumping,'' she said. "I would recommend it anyone.''