December 30th, 2008
03:24 PM ET
6 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. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    Mary Patricia A. Letcher December 30th, 2008 11:45 am ET

    Under these circumstances, it would be best to hold our Inauguration in a stadium. It is not too late to alter the plan.
    ----------------–
    Normally, I'd agree. But where are they going to find a stadium that holds 3 million people?

    December 30, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. rockturner

    Judge by the Content of Character. Not color of Skin.

    If Barak were White. No one would ask for his Birth Certificate.

    Regardless of your parentage. Most Americans are a cross breed
    of hundreds of cultures.

    None of us are any less American for it. We are infact better because of it.

    Had Barak not been American..he would never had been able to
    even approach the Senate, let alone the White House.

    Obviously, Mark M. Needs a History Lesson.

    For, me, I am proud of the direction America is heading.
    and yes Barak Obama is the President.

    December 30, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. Ron Canada

    For Marc. M
    You seem to have all the answers, Why did'nt you run for
    President. As for the birth certificate, go to Obama.com . Get
    Over it!!

    December 30, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. look at all the haters

    actually I mean both sides. Adams was incorrect. It will not be reaching for consensus that kills the country. It will be each side hating at each other. like this.... all the time.

    December 30, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. man from ct

    December 30th, 2008 11:05 am ET

    I wonder if the hype would've been there had it been a white guy, who didn't buy the white house through a sea of corruption?

    It's not historic, it's a shame that our country has stooped to the level it has and placed such an incompetent, corrupt, self-centered individual at the highest seat. It's all glitter and showboating; and when the real tests begin, you libs will see what fools you've been to vote in such inexperience.
    ______________________________________________________

    you must be white, and mad. but you are right bout one thing if this was a white man there wont be alot of hype around it, but if it was hilliary there will. face it, you are giong to have a black prez, and the funny thing about it is that there are more white people in love with the prex than black . who ever was going to be the prez they where going to have alot to deal with all we can do is pray, and HOPE that change really does come.

    GET OVER IT AND GROW UP

    December 30, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Chaos in DC!!!!

    It will be a chaotic start for the new administration and will mar the Obama presidency. You wanted to be President, Mr. Obama, so here ya go. Have fun!!!

    December 30, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    TCM December 30th, 2008 11:05 am ET

    I wonder if the hype would've been there had it been a white guy, who didn't buy the white house through a sea of corruption?
    It's not historic, it's a shame that our country has stooped to the level it has and placed such an incompetent, corrupt, self-centered individual at the highest seat. It's all glitter and showboating; and when the real tests begin, you libs will see what fools you've been to vote in such inexperience.
    ----------------
    Eight years ago, it WAS a white guy who won the election. And you see where that got us.

    It's not too late. You can still change your citizenship to Canadian. They still have a white president. Hurry while the plane fares are cheap!

    December 30, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. Michael Fallai, Phoenix AZ

    listen to you pathetic, bitter Republicans.

    Why don't you put COUNTRY FIRST for once?

    December 30, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Kevin

    They should issue a certain amount of tickets giving priority to disabled, war heroes and people who actively campaigned for Obama. All this fuss is just over the top.

    December 30, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. Mesa

    If the birth certificate is a "non-issue", then why did Obama pay $800K to keep it sealed?

    December 30, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Rob Stumpf

    Once again, all you haters should just go find yourself another drug of choice. Hatefulness is very addictive and all consumming. Being hateful leads to hating <<<

    Good. So practice what you preach. Stop hating George Bush.

    December 30, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. erico 33139

    It is going to be worst than expected. Can you imagine 3.5 to 4.0 million people in need of toilet systems ? It's going to look like Woodstock after it was over.

    December 30, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  13. Debby

    Well everyone keeps saying a historic moment, but will it be good or bad by next year.

    December 30, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. Alan

    Republicans continue to amaze me. I honestly believe many of you would SHOOT HOLES IN YOUR OWN BOAT if you thought sinking and drowning would make our new president-elect look bad. You will obviously cheer if he fails.

    That's ok. Your stupidity is what lost your party the election. Your attitude is what will KEEP your party out of meaningful politics for a long, long time to come.

    But - I hope we can all join together and not only condemn but INVESTIGATE and JAIL anyone who is ever caught intentionally trying to derail the job our new president is trying to do - for TREASON. I realize this is Karl Rove's way, advocated constantly by RUSH LIMBURER and SEAN "OH GOSH I'M SUCH A SMART GUY" HANNITY. But we're in such dire straits, getting worse EVERY DAY while the current president visits mommy and daddy in Texas for a "break" and runs the clock out, that we need every effort possible to pull it around.

    Honestly - it will be a MIRACLE if Obama is able to save us. Still, some of you amazingly are HOPING he won't and don't realize there is NO TIME LEFT ON THE CLOCK. THIS is the player we sent in by majority vote (I know - that stings when you're a Republican as that never seems to matter to you) to hopefully score big before the end of the game.

    Keep up your Karl Rove crap and the clock will run out, the country will fall into the deepest depression history has seen - and I'll be looking for each and every one of you.

    December 30, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  15. Me

    Sandy C says, "I will be there to celebrate the swearing in of a President who identifies with those of us Americans who were forgotten the past 8 years!"

    I am sorry, but how many Americans can identify with someone who lives in a mansion in Chicago? I know I can't and I won't ever be able to identify with Borack Obama and his family – his children who attend Private School (because the public schools the rest of our children attend are not good enough). I will support and pray for him because he is the new leader of our country, but don't kid yourselves and believe that he represents the "average" American. And please, supporting Obama is one thing, but STOP worshipping the man – he is NOT our "Savior"!

    December 30, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. Rob Stumpf

    Barack Obama WILL be our next President and it's up to all Americans to stand behind him. <<<

    Not, it's not. Why would you stand behind someone you disagree with? The best way to "deal with" Obama is to work so he isn't re-elected, and his harebrained New Deal/appeasement agenda is defeated.

    We need a real Republican in the White House. Not Bush, a spending lunatic. But someone that will defend our country and protect our liberty. Someone like Reagan, not Obama.

    December 30, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. Jenn

    I wouldn't exactly call this a DIRE warning. I think that's a bit of overkill. Personally, if you are really excited about the inauguration, I would just invite some friends over and have your own inaugural party.

    December 30, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. Larry

    Gotta live up to the media hype,so spend 50 million and be a "ROCK STAR" for a day,what the heck,he's not paying for it.Typical Democrat.

    December 30, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. atlas

    the Messiah will provide loaves and fish for everyone!!! count me in!

    December 30, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Lauren the Designer

    Marc in Virginia December 30th, 2008 11:13 am ET
    I'm happily renting out 2 rooms in my Northern VA home for about a $1000/night to some ignorant Obamabots. Thanks for sharing your wealth.

    ----------------------------

    Wow. You're a real jerk. I hope those people disinfect themselves after they leave your home.

    December 30, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Hi...I'm Tom......please stop the "messiah" crap!!!

    Obama is NOT some great leader who came down from the heavens to lead this country.

    He's an inexperienced 1st term Senator from Chicago that has done NOTHING important.

    Ok......I understand wanting change..........but remember he's a politician..........not the messiah ( makes me want to puke when I hear people say that) and has ALOT to prove!!!!!!!!

    Get over the celebrity of this guy........it's ridiculious

    December 30, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. Ken Sawyer

    You can bet a Democrat came up with the idea of having the big day in the coldest month of the year.

    December 30, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. AV

    To all the conservative naysayers and hacks and trolls on here:
    Thanks for nothing over the last 8 years. All Obama's going to do is clean up the economy and get to work on our infrastructure and our education system, and mend a few bruised relationships with foreign allies while making the rich pay their fair share for the first time in almost a decade. Of course, individual and national prosperity aren't enough for you greedy ingrates.
    If you don't like the new, Obama-run America, feel free to LEAVE it.

    December 30, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Wish I could be there

    The access to this inauguration is no different than in the past. The Mall is still a public space; Metro has never handled huge crowds well; and DC still has poor vehicular access to downtown and a terribly inefficient street grid once you get there.

    Only one thing has changed–people are really excited about this Inauguration. This is NOT business as usual. This is truly history in the making, and God willing, our country will never be the same.

    December 30, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. Gen Patton

    Simple solution: Don't go, all the MSM is going to shove it down our throats anyway.

    December 30, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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