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. Paul C.

    Yep, the righties especially "Repuclican!" must have no self respect and enjoy making fools of themselves in public. So sad that you people have descended into such mediocre chaos. I remember when the GOP still had some ethics and standards even under Reagan, but no anymore. You've ruined the party with the neo con cowards and the mega church wannabe christians. You are so out of touch with reality it's pathetic. After the routing you suffered last month on Election Day I would be more worried about the current state of my country and my party. But alas, the hate and denial seep through and you go on pitiful little tirades about Obama. These are the tactics of the lies, lies that have the stench of death and defeat. But that's where you've taken this country and your party for the last 8 years. You reep what you sow and when you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas. Better get used to President Obama and if you don't like it, tough, deal with it because there is nothing you can do about it. Unless you're some crazy piece of human garbage that wants to do more and in that case the Secret Service will gladly put your nothing butt in the gray bar hotel! Keep em coming righties, all you are is comic relief now! Oh and by the way I'm a moderate so the typical "liberal this and liberal that" has no meaning!

    December 30, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. angie in NC

    I'll be watching it on TV. . . . because I don't like crowds. God bless and protect Barack Obama.

    December 30, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. For McCain in PA

    Note to those un-educated obamabots – Barack Hussein Obama is not a Messiah! He is the president-elect! Are you actually going to pray to him? How about praying FOR him? He's going to need all the help and support he can get. I am just going to wait and see if how he will do. What will impress me is if he actually accepts full responsiblity for action taken under his presidency. It would be refreshing to see a stop to the blame games in Washington. Oh, one other thing – Pelosi has got to go!

    December 30, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. Steve

    I'm just curious. Does everyone posting here and referring to the President Elect as a Messiah honestly believe that?

    The man is the President Elect, not Christ. Making this type of comparison is setting him up for failure right out of the gate.

    December 30, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. notbush

    I'm pretty sure the inauguration was similar for Bush, Reagan and every other Republican that has occupied the White House. The nasty Republican responders do amuse me though... Wasn't it their candidate that got us into this economic mess?? I do recall a good economy and a budget surplus in the Clinton years. Bush can never say that!

    December 30, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. An American

    I wonder how we can have peace in the world when there is so much hate right in our own neighborhoods. Let's practice acceptance, tolerance and respect.

    December 30, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. Tim

    wow, so many people still bitter and resentful.
    you people need to get over it.
    the most historic inauguration in our life-time and all you can do is vent.
    This is not the time or place for therse comments.
    You moaners have two choices: get on the bus and embrace change or……….
    +++++++++++
    Like we haven't heard moaning and groaning for the past 8 years from you idiots.

    December 30, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. Gina in Racine Wi

    Whetther we watch the Inauguration in D.C. or with friends at certain spot.....or even at home infront of our own TVs......I think we all will feel United and feel the Rush of this Historic Momemnt.

    Obama has alot on his plate,......but I have so much faith in his ability to take on each and every one of these challenges.

    Yes We Can!!!!! Yes We Did!!!!!

    God Bless the Obama Family and God Bless America!!!!!

    December 30, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. ItsObamasTime

    December 30th, 2008 11:01 am ET

    Obama has a lot of fans. He should be an actor in big-budget movies or maybe a rock-n-roll singer in a band or something, not the President.

    ___________________________________________________

    Wow. I almost forgot that the republicans had been so used to their president not being liked, that when a candidate comes along that might actually represent a decent portion of our country's population, it becomes an MTV show rather than politics. Get over yourself! Due to the incredible voter turn out, you can clearly see what most of America wants. And now we've finally got it :D
    ps. FYI, obama is NOT a rockstar because he has experience, leadership skills, and a brilliant education. unlike bush who almost failed his way through college.

    December 30, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. musicman

    Not sure I understand why no umbrellas.
    Is it because it may be too easy to make a rifle look like one?
    Or is it because they'll now be no mistake when the one umbrella goes up, a la Dallas?

    December 30, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    To all saying Marc needs to grow up. Do you mean like you did after bush got elected? Face it, dems acted like Bush was not the president and still have not gotten over the fact that they lost in 2000. Can you say that dems treated bush with respect at any point? If you can you are only fooling yourself.

    December 30, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. Bob in VA

    To call Marc in Virginia an idiot would be an insult to idiots. His posts are certainly an insult to Virginians.

    December 30, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. Get over it

    Let's see, everywhere "Global Warming Expert" Al Gore has gone has been plagued by severe cold and ice.

    My weather prediction for Inauguration day is 6 degrees and 2 feet of snow.

    December 30, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. G Keith Phd

    I will be there front and center even if it is -60 degrees ..think how far man has come 50 years ago ..a walk home in group could have resulted in getting a fire hose turned on you .

    December 30, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Ian

    I wonder how many tax payer dollars will be spent on the ceremony. Shouldn't we scale the celebration down and keep that money in the economy so we don't lose our homes?

    December 30, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Folks, Obama is going to get the job whether you're standing around in hip-deep snow and sub-zero temperatures or relaxing in your comfy, centrally-heated, living-room. Why is anyone actually going to this dog-and-pony show?

    December 30, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. Irritated in Fl

    So many unemployed, hungry and homeless and Obama insists on wasting all this money on his dog and pony show. In world War II Citizens were asked to donate their pots and pans to made into ammunition etc for the war effort. Kennedy said, " ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country". Well, I'm asking you Obama, what can you do for the people of this country in our greatest time of need? Can you relinquish your need to be placed on a throne and instead, spend those millions on the poor and homless? Can you"sacrafice" your house warming party and HELP people who elected you? Somehow I doubt it. Your ego is much to bloated.

    December 30, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Joyce E Neal

    I am going to enjoy it all from the warmth of my home. I will be able to see/hear everything. Going to DC just to make history, well not me. Many will not even be able to hear or see what is going on and the ceremony will be over and the majority won't even know. I pray for a 65 degree day with plenty of sun.

    December 30, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. DIEDERICH in Germany

    I have family in USA. I will be flying out soon for this event! CONGRATULATIONS USA for your great Victory!

    December 30, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Alegra

    After reading some of these comments I was really bothered by how ignorant and confused some of you really are. Some of you need proof he is a citizen, others say his supporters are crazy and that he should not even think of trying to have this 'party' and use it for the economy. How dumb are you people? After having Bush run this country and mess it up for 8 years you can still make this nonsense comments? I really wish I could meet some of you in person to tell you all how dumb and ignorant you are. First of all this isnt a party its a swearing in ceremony that your dumb president had to do as well. Also I didnt hear all these comments when he was sworn in. Also Palin would have been ten times worst than him, my grandmother knows more politics that her. I really think you people need to take a long hard look in the mirror before coming after a qualified, guided, smart man like Obama.

    December 30, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  21. Griff

    Interaction!!! Turkey is trying to protect itself against Northern Iraq/Iran Boaders.... So an Alliance is good for Israel....

    December 30, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Jeff

    It is going to be worse than Katrina! I can see the idiots on roof tops now waiting for a rescue! It should be hillarious!

    December 30, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. Guy Fowl

    One of the best things about American politics is that we DO have a VIABLE two party system. When the public percieves one party has led the Country to far to the right, the public votes the other party into power. When the second party goes to far toward the left..... the other party is voted back into office....

    Although America's course may waiver slightly left or right, over the years, America' has been steadfastly and accurately on the course towards freedom and equality for all.

    The public has spoken.......Support the President.

    May Freedom Ring!

    December 30, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. dc_res

    Hey neo-con sore losers,

    This is a hostoric event and Americans want to be part of it, those are facts. The fact that millions want to be here, despite all the inconvenience, is a triumph of democracy and the most excitement anything related to U.S. government has generated in years.

    This isn't about money or infrastructure, Obama isnt forcing anyone to come to DC or Congress to spend money on this. Don't be ridiculous. To say this event should be confined to a session of Congress or those with ticket holders is utterly elitist.

    Those of you who are insulting Obama, that is really not the issue at hand, I'm sure there are many venomous right wing blogs you can hang out on. And by the way, I wouldn't be so boastful considering the corrupt idiot you put in charge for the past 8 years. This country is in crisis because of his leadership.

    Perhaps Obama won't fix everything, but there are many out there who believe he can, so we're going to celebrate regardless of what you think. Don't come to DC, that's fine with us. At least we're not going to be waving "Mission Accomplished" signs at the event when nothing has actually been accomplished.

    December 30, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. bobstradamus

    Im staying home and doing something because YES I CAN! I remember the special ed teachers always telling their mentally challenged students the same slogans you get from our future administration. Im convinced the movie Idiocracy really predicts our future. Democrats, republicans, obama, mcain, etc. Theyre all politicians and have no interest in actually helping the public. But people are gullable and will believe whatever the politicians tell you. I dont know how people dont see something wrong with our political process. If the nfl were like politics then the super bowl would be the Cowboys and Patriots every single year since the nfl was conceived. How do we live in a country with so much choice and "freedom" but the media and government only shows us two choices for a leader every 4 years. Dont believe the hype.

    December 30, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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