By Congressman Michael Turner
A record number of spectators and interested citizens are planning to attend the historic ceremony where Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. Between four and five million people are expected to attend our nation’s celebration of democracy and the peaceful transition of power. While inauguration ceremonies are tremendous experiences and occasions of great historical importance, those coming to Washington, D.C. to view President-elect Obama’s inauguration may find the following information helpful.
Because a record number of people are expected to attend the ceremonies in our Nation’s Capitol, security for this event will be very strict. The inauguration ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11:30a.m. on January 20, 2009. President-elect Obama is expected to take the oath of office at noon on a platform being constructed on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol Building. After delivering his inaugural address he will then ride in a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue that eventually ends in front of the White House. This event along Pennsylvania Avenue will be open to the public for viewing. The Ohio State Marching Band will have the honor of representing our state in the Inaugural Parade.
Due to the historic nature of the inaugural ceremony, demand for tickets has far exceeded the supply given to Congressional offices. However, those interested in taking part in the inaugural experience may still have an opportunity. The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) announced that for the first time ever, the entire two-mile length of the National Mall (from the U.S. Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial) will be open to the public to view the historic swearing-in ceremony. In the past, the Mall has been used as a staging area for the inaugural parade. For those without tickets, this will be a “standing-room only” viewing area, located just beyond Fourth Street Southwest on the National Mall. While these areas will be very crowded, they will be equipped with large television screens to provide you with the opportunity to experience this event. Please also note that the weather in Washington, DC is historically cold and rainy at this time of year and that visitors should dress appropriately.
The city of Washington, D.C. has made extensive preparations for the anticipated record crowds. The Washington subway is planning to offer rush-hour service on Inauguration Day from 4a.m.-7p.m. The city has also begun planning for the projected 10,000 buses that will be transporting people into the city for Inauguration events. For the inauguration, the Transit Authority will be offering special Obama commemorative fare cards in celebration of the swearing in of the 44th President of the United States.
In addition, Washington, D.C. has passed regulations to allow restaurants to be open 24 hours. Mayor Adrian Fenty has assured both Congress and local residents that they will have heighted security and have arranged for 4,000 police officers from departments outside of Washington to add to the 4,000 Washington police officers who will be handling security during the Inauguration.