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. VICKI

    AND WHO'S BEEN IN OFFICE, LEAVING 1 OF THE BIGGEST MESSES IN HISTORY? REPUBLICANS. WHO DECIDES HOW BIG THE INAUGURATION CROWD IS? NOT PRESIDENT ELECT. DC IN JANUARY, JUST ISN'T THE BEST TIME TO BE OUTSIDE. JUST STAY HOME AND WATCH IT ON TV.

    December 30, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  2. David

    I am not even surprised seeing the Republican comments here wishing for President-Elect Obama to FAIL or comments like I will not accept him as my President until I see his Birth Certificate (what an idiot who made that one). Do you really think a man could become POTUS without somone verifying he is a naturalized citizen. These are the same people who act as if they have a patent on Patriotism. The same people who claim to put this country FIRST. The same people that make put out racially charged music CD's and think it's funny. Wishing for any President to fail is not patriotic. It is in fact one of the worst forms of not acting American. You are in fact wishing for America to fail by wishing for a new President to fail. People need to put aside their hate and start putting some of that energy into rebuilding America and repairing our image around the world.

    December 30, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. Richard Rohde

    Agree with you Rod Stumpf, in the meantime lets have fun and act like liberal democrats and tear down everything.

    December 30, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  4. Tony

    If the NYPD can cope with the Jonas Bros on NYE, then DC can cope with the inauguration.

    The notice is just what it is; a message to come prepared or stay home. Simple as that.

    It can be enjoyed two ways: 1. Celebration of Obama's election or 2. Farewell celebration for Dub.

    December 30, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. JF

    I have never heard such ignorance, divisiveness and outright HATE in one place in my life. This harping on the negative is proof positive that many people do not seek change for the positive ....they prefer to wallow in self-pity and negativity, and the more that join them the merrier!! I don't know how much lower you all think this country can go before it (or its IDEAL) is lost FOREVER. STOP THE BICKERING – THE HATING – THE BACKBITING ..... before it's too late !

    December 30, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. Maria Davis-Chicago

    Marc m-"High interest rates, insane unemployment and taxes like we have never seen before"? Who do you think put us there in the first place? The outgoing president (if that's what you want to call him) that YOU probably voted for in the first place.
    And Marc in Virginia-If you don't beleive in President Elect's cause, then why are you taking people's money? You remind me of so many people in the news nowadays that were working so hard to get rid of!

    December 30, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. Brown

    For all those people with negative comments about PE Obama and this event you all need to look in the mirror and what you will see is a reflection of chaotic mess YOUR about to be lowest approval rating ex-President left behind. If you say PE Obama is inexperienced, then what do you call President Bush?? Thought you could forget, well I just reminded you!!! Have a blessed day.

    December 30, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. Sore winners

    Didn't the Democrats win?

    December 30, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. small1ldy

    I see there still remains a lot of anger on the behalf of those who witnessed such incredible changes on November 4th. Too bad really. To the woman who is charging $1000.00 a night for her rooms for some "obamabots" so they may attend the inauguration. Thank you, that is a great service to your country. Obviously they can afford it and you will reap the benefits of your fees. It's a great country, isn't it???

    December 30, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    Eileen Patterson December 30th, 2008 9:56 am ET

    The inauguration event itself promises to prove what a nasty bunch of people supported Obama's presidency. Just think what DC will be like with port-a-potties up and down the streets, hotdog stands everywhere,people sleeping in boxes downtown. This will show the level of intelligence of those supporters who could see the whole thing on TV comfortably in their homes. Maybe they think Obama is going to throw $100 bills at them during the parade? Then again, maybe he will.
    -----------------–
    I didn't get a ticket, either.

    December 30, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. TCM

    It's a trite saying for libs to keep spouting, "Get over it..." about Obama being handed the presidency....well, repubicans have nothing to "get over," since we have known all along what OBama lacks. It will be the libs that have to get over it, since you're setting high expectations from a complete incompetent...and in a year when there's race riots, rampant crime and probably terrorist activity on our soil...you libs will be in disbelieft that the messiah couldn't deliver like you thought...you'll have to get over it!

    December 30, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. small1ldy

    Marc, as to the authentic birth certificate I would be just as outraged as you!! In fact if I were you I'd consider moving to another country to show your disdain for this man. That darned Supreme Court refusing to even address the issue!! How dare they? Could it be it was addressed and resolved and only those with a lack of critical thinking skills don't see? Yeah, I'm thinking that's it.........

    December 30, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. johnny

    You tell me, Rob Stumpf. How have Obama's supporter's treated Palin, McCain and Bush badly? Seems like Bush has lied to and walked all over the American people for the last 8 years. I'd say he's gotten more than enough leeway, He should have been thrown out of office after the first election was stolen for him. He should have been impeached. He should be going to prison. I'd say he's been treated fairly well. I never heard anyone yell "Kill Palin!" at an Obama rally. I never heard anyone yell "McCain funded the board William Ayers served on! He's palling around with terrorists!" at an Obama rally. How have these three been treated badly? It cannot compare to the vitriol that's been posted about the new President Elect.

    December 30, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    Marc M December 30th, 2008 11:34 am ET

    When i see a real birth certificate I'll consider this man my president.
    Remember Jimmy Carter, you asked for it all over again.
    High interest rates, insane unemployment and taxes like we have never seen before. Here they come.
    -------------------–
    I don't think anyone cares whether you think he's the president or not. If you can't accept reality, then that's your problem.

    December 30, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. TCM

    retired army in San antonio – you should be ashamed for betraying our country; I served 20 also, and anyone voting for Obama should have their citizenship revoked! Treasonous act, at a minimum.....you'll be getting over it, after a year of corruption, further recession and incompetent leadership.

    December 30, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. Laverne

    TO RETIRED ARMY IN SAN ANTONIO: Please enlighten all of us and name the presidents birth certificates you have seen. You are a jerk!

    December 30, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  17. TCM

    Chad, don't give yourself credit for being smart, if you voted for Obama....fooled maybe, but not smart.

    December 30, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. Luis Perez

    ROFL @ the idiots still talking about "real birth certificates". Get a grip on reality people, a black man is your president whether you choose to accept it or not. The GOP is the most pathetic bunch of human (giving loads of credit here) beings to ever have walked this planet.

    December 30, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    Rob in NJ 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.
    --------------------
    Funny. A lot of people felt that way about Ronald Reagan. Hey, wait a minute. He really WAS an actor, wasn't he?

    Can you say "Bedtime for Bonzo??"

    December 30, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. Ty

    You bitter people are still bitter, wow...no wonder the county's in a mess, would rather be bitter than use that energy to find solutions...whether you like him or not he's your next president...only hate causes that type of bitterness...

    December 30, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. TCM

    Rob Stumpf -Obama's cronies aren't nasty? ARe you even on this planet? Emanuel? Rezko? Gov Rod? Pelosi? Reid? what do you define as nasty? Oh wait, let's not forget the Gestapo hunt once the plumber spoke his mind, or the relentless spies sent out to discredit Palin...dude, lay off the bottle...your vision's cloudy

    December 30, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Pat

    Bravado in Boston December 30th, 2008 11:36 am ET
    . . . . Now then, on to the "healing of the nation" part of what we dems and libs do best………
    _______________________

    That's the funniest thing I've read all week!!!!!!!!!! Do you ever read the "healing" comments by your dems and libs????????????

    December 30, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. Canadian Watching

    I am appalled at the hatred and vitriol spewing from some of these posts. This is a time when you should be pulling together and working as a team to make your country a better place for everyone.

    Shameful.

    December 30, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    Pete December 30th, 2008 11:12 am ET

    it's a small sacrafice to see the Messiah.
    -----------------------
    Another hater who insists on calling Barack Obama "messiah".

    FYI: The word "messiah" means "chosen one". Technically you're correct. Barack Obama was "chosen" to clean up George Bush's messes.

    Take that, haters!

    December 30, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Concerned in Florida

    This just proves what I have been saying since the beginning of the campaigns: he wants change right? He wants more money to change hands...this show (aka inauguration) just proves my point. He said what the American People wanted to hear and now it's going to be political business as usual. Don't believe me, just look at the cabinet that he has chosen. Those are a lot of the same political cronies that Clinton had when he was in office.

    An as for the show, this not for the people, it is a huge ego booster. "Look at me, look at me!! I am the first black president." I do not care what color or gender you are, what are you going to do to change the mess that we are in. Oh that's right, spend money that we are already hurting for..

    December 30, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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