December 30th, 2008
03:24 PM ET
5 years ago

Inauguration organizers describe day-long endurance test

Preparations are non-stop for the January 20 event.
Preparations are non-stop for the January 20 event.

(CNN) - There are still a host of question marks around next month’s inauguration festivities, but one thing is undeniable: the day may be geared less to your average middle schooler, and more to a field-tested U.S. Marine.

In the latest blunt advisory released Monday, the presidential inaugural committee said ticket-holders for President-elect Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony will need to arrive no fewer than three hours before the outdoor ceremony’s scheduled 11:30 a.m. start time.

But getting there in the first place poses a logistical challenge that’s not for the faint of heart or limb. Despite a new plan to turn big sections of the city into parking lots for charter buses and a peak rush hour schedule plan for the city’s Metro system, most cars and buses are unlikely to be allowed to enter the city, let alone the designated two-mile security zone around the swearing-in site.

Metro officials warn that riders will be underground with “thousands” of fellow visitors – meaning that even those lucky enough to make it onto the platform will face lengthy wait times before they see the inside of a packed train car.

Attendees forced to abandon their cars for mass transit might want to start a Stairmaster schedule now: transportation officials have warned that capacity crowds may force them to turn off the system’s escalators – making the trip back above ground an ambitious workout.

If all the dire predictions are tempting visitors to swear off transportation altogether in favor of an old-fashioned hike – well, that’s sort of the point. Officials are advising everyone within two miles of the Capitol – and those from further points who are up for the trek - to walk to the site.

Of course, not everyone is in any condition for a miles-long slog through East Coast January weather. But organizers warned Monday that “traffic conditions and restrictions” may make reaching drop-off points for disabled guests “extremely difficult.”

“There will be designated areas for people with disabilities in each of the ticketed seating areas on the Capitol grounds, however these areas are limited in size and available on a first-come first-served basis,” read the advisory. “Persons in wheelchairs or utilizing walkers should be aware that they will need to move across bumpy surfaces, grassy areas, and possible icy areas (depending on the weather).”

Those worried about how their child may handle the hike might want to leave them behind: strollers are unwelcome altogether. And everyone might want to cross their fingers for a dry day - umbrellas are verboten too.

If you’ve overestimated your own toughness, don’t count on being able to call for help: “Be aware that it may be difficult to talk” because of an overloaded communication system. “Please use text messaging to send critical messages.”

Worried about your ability to handle the day-long endurance test? So’s the inaugural committee. “Please think carefully about whether you can stand outside in cold weather in a large crowd for up to six hours” - and “whether you are ready for long delays getting home afterwards,” they said.

Officials have said they expect 1-2 million visitors to travel to the National Mall on Inauguration Day.


Filed under: Inauguration • Popular Posts
soundoff (331 Responses)
  1. J.P.

    Didn't lots of people turn out for Hitler's rallies, too?

    December 30, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Don

    David,

    Before posting on this topic, you should read the constitution and look up the definition of naturalized. A naturalized citizen is not eligible to become POTUS – only those having citizenship by birth on US soil are eligble.

    December 30, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. Noneya

    I find it amusing when conservatives make rude (and definitive) statements about how, two or four years from now, the US will suddenly realize what cute and cuddly people they really are, and vote Republicans back in. Sheesh!

    December 30, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Proud American

    American should take a real good look at these hateful Republican comments. This is what happens when brother and sisters are allowed to have children. 55 Million complete Idiots. God Bless America

    December 30, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. nobones

    We are trillions of dollars in debt., facing a potential Great Depression II and spending millions of dollars on an inaugural circus. The American Way.

    December 30, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. Rob Stumpf

    Bush, a president who will go down in history as the worst president ever.
    <<

    Which, of course illustrates that liberals know nothing about history.

    But I love how they want conservatives to be fair to Obama while being unfair to Bush. It's hysterical.

    December 30, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. David

    I'm not sure what TCM is referring to in terms of inexperience. Perhaps he means the imbecile that's been running the country the past 8 years - you know, the guy who had four bankrupted businesses before becoming a government leader. If Obama fixes just ONE thing this administration broke, we'll be in far better shape.

    December 30, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Rob Stumpf

    Rob Stumpf…you sound like a maniac. Seek help.
    <<<

    Okay, then! No bitterness or hating from the Obama side! ha ha.

    December 30, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Steven

    I'm going to be right there on the mall! No ticket but loving it! My time in Iraq was by farce, yes FARCE. But going to the mall, will be by sheer FORCE of the American spirit. Man, I love this land. Oh, by the way Kristen, Eileen Patterson,JohnT, and the rest of your ilk, get a life. No, really, get a life. 1-20-09 woohoo!

    December 30, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. chaps

    Laughing a lot about all the people on here saying that all Americans must support the new President and how criticism amounts to hoping that America fails. These are the same people who for the last 8 years have been doing everything possible to undermine President Bush and actively working for him, and the country, to fail. Don't forget the bumper stickers I've been seeing for 8 years: "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." I can feel my patriotism getting higher every day.

    December 30, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. Mike

    This will be nothing compared to the 1,460 day endurance test the American economy will face under this moron.

    December 30, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. Paul

    I love these fools who thought that CNN's headlines during the campaign favoring BHO were unbias journalism and now the headlines from the same CNN are misleading. Get a grip on it!! There may have been 54 million people who voted for BHO but there were 47 million of us who didn't. Hardly qualilfies as a mandate. I still have yet to meet any BHO supporter who will acknowledge that this man has any faults. The perfect president. Just what America needs.

    December 30, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  13. johnjacobjingleheimer

    Will their be a designated smoking area where Barack and other smokers can relax and unwind?

    December 30, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. Dave in Cincinnati

    I am so surprised at the magnitude of negative posters. I am going and taking my young daughter as well. And I do still believe in the person America voted overwhelmingly for.

    Someone talked about a large mess that will need to be cleaned up after the inauguration. But the biggest mess will not be the one on the mall, it will be the one left behind from 8 years of a lame leader.

    December 30, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  15. DCSilb

    I'm a DC resident and while I'm excited about the upcoming events, I have a message to everyone coming: Please go easy on our city. You have to understand that we are a city of less than 1 million people, even during out peak day hours. Its going to be very difficult for us to accomdate this many people. Still, we will try and hope that you will come back and visit during our summer tourist season. There is no place I like hang out at more than the WWII memorial at sundown.

    December 30, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. johnjacobjingleheimer

    I meant "there"

    December 30, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  17. swannee

    To all the Obama-maniacs – don't waste your breath on the poor little Republicans. They are so jealous of Obama, jealous, jealous, jealous! Rejoice! Let's all rejoice that we are not lumped in with the under-50 IQ gang!
    Let's rejoice that we FINALLY have an intelligent and totally cool President that the whole world is excited about! The entire world will be rejoicing and celebrating with us on 1/20/09 – the day we have been waiting for – forever!
    Leave the racial slurs, the "free market policies" (that have created a global depression), corrupt & criminal Republicans behind. They are out of there! Out of the majority, out of the Presidency – out, out, out in the cold with their ignorance & pitiful record over the last 8 years.
    January 20 – the day the whole world has been waiting for – have fun & party likes it's 2009!

    December 30, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Felicia

    I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MANY HATERS IN MY LIFE.!!!!!!

    HE IS THE NEW PRESIDENT PEOPLE. GET OVER IT! HE WON FAIR AND SQUARE AND BY QUITE A BIT OF VOTES I MIGHT ADD!!!

    I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE CAN'T JUST BE "PATRIOTIC" AND STAND BEHIND THEIR NEWLY ELECTED PRESIDENT. WE ALL HAD TO STAND BEHIND BUSH FOR EIGHT LONG TIRING STRENUOUS YEARS.... GIVEN, NO ONE LIKES HIM, BUT WE RESPECTED HIM BECAUSE HE WAS THE PRESIDENT AND ITS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

    PEOPLE SHOULD GIVE OBAMA A CHANCE, THE POOR GUY HASN'T HAD A CHANCE TO DO ANYTHING YET. I THINK THAT PLENTY ARE JUST MAD BECAUSE WE HAVE A AFRICAN AMERICAN PRESIDENT. WELL JUST GET OVE RIT BECAUSE THERE IS A NEW DAY COMIN HONEY!

    IS THIS POLITICALLY CORRECT ENOUGH CNN OR IS IT GOING TO SIT IN MODERATION FOR A YEAR?

    December 30, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. Isaac

    President Obama.

    December 30, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  20. DWC

    WHY DOESN'T BARACK GET SWORN IN AROUND THE COUNTRY OR ALL 50 STATES IN MINI INAURGURATIONS????

    WHATS THE BIG DEAL HE IS AND HE WILL BE THE PEOPLE'S PRESIDENT!!!!

    WHO SAYS THE PRESIDENT OF THESE HERE UNITED STATES HAS TO BE SWORN IN IN WASHINGTONG???????

    LET ALL OF AMERICA ATTEND!!!!

    IN PHILLY, NEBRASKA, MISSISSIPPI, IOWA ALL OVER THE PLACE ALASKA?????

    COME ON GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT !!

    December 30, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. TCM

    Proud American? You voted for OBama? Do you even know what an American is? You own admittance of supporting such an unworthy invidividual highlights that you must be the idiot....

    December 30, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. RDFROMDC

    For anyone not familiar with DC – I was born in DC and raised just outside the city (Oxon Hill, MD) –

    Here's what you need to do – drive to Southeast DC – somewhere along MLK drive – park on the street and walk across the 14th street bridge (the one by the Navy Yard) – It's a very scenic stroll. You'll see what the rest of of the country is going to look like 4 years from now.

    Have a great time at this very historic event!

    December 30, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. obama-mama

    read a lot of these blogs and I tell you the only reason people are so upset is because Barrack is black….If it was a white democrat that one there wouldn't this much hate. But I will say the love does outweigh the hate with is a positive step in the right direction.

    December 30, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Fred the moderate

    I've read a lot of hatred today. Loosing this elevtion has been difficult for most Republicans. I would suggest ending the hate speech though. For one thing, America is walking away from the divide and rule concept in favor of working together for a change. The Lee Atwater, Sara Palin, Karl Rove methods of stiring up hate has been rejected. In the future we will act like true Americans – for once. Secondly, with all the death threats leveled at the guy during the campaign, both via phone, mail and shouted out at McCain/Palin reallies, the Sec. Service, FBI, CIA and the office for homeland security are reviewing all emails with hate components in it. Who knows, maybe you are on their watch list already?

    December 30, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. DWC

    WHY DOESN'T BARACK GET SWORN IN AROUND THE COUNTRY

    OR ALL 50 STATES IN MINI INAURGURATIONS????

    WHATS THE BIG DEAL HE IS AND HE WILL BE THE PEOPLE'S PRESIDENT!!!!

    WHO SAYS THE PRESIDENT OF THESE HERE UNITED STATES HAS TO BE SWORN IN IN WASHINGTON???????

    LET ALL OF AMERICA ATTEND!!!!

    IN PHILLY, NEBRASKA, MISSISSIPPI, IOWA ALL OVER THE PLACE ALASKA, WEST VIRGINIA!

    COME ON GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT !!

    December 30, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14