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

Inauguration organizers describe day-long endurance test

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Dave M

    In this economy they will spend millions on an inaguration???!!!!!!! That makes no sense. If Obama allows this than he is no better than past politicians, although I fear he is no better anyway. Once a politician, always a crook.

    December 30, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    Andy December 30th, 2008 11:11 am ET

    Come forth and bless us, messiah
    Blessed are the idiots. For they shall inherit the GOP.

    December 30, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Griff

    CNN's version of BIAS.... It is Not just a Positive Quention, (Or Negative).... Or is the Bias Positive or Negative... It's no good saying "we are not Biased"... Unless the public Knows which way the Question Lean's.... For, or against....

    December 30, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  4. Carol

    To Rob's question: "How did Obama's crazy supporters treat Palin, McCain, and Bush?" Answer: with far more respect than they deserved.

    While Palin and McCain were whipping their dim-witted mobs into a frenzy with the "palling around with terrorists" BS, not a peep was heard about Palin's husband palling around with Joe Vogler and the Alaskan Independence Party (i.e., terrorist). There was quite a list of juicy items that could have been plastered all over the news, but weren't – Cindy McCain's drug habit, John McCain's role in Keating Five or how he cheated on his first wife....and let's not forget Palin's witch-hunting pastor and the pregnant unmarried daughter.

    December 30, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. Edward Stinch


    December 30, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. kelly WI

    Now that he has been built up to Messiah the only direction he can go now is down. The liberal press will start critizing him in one month.
    Before you critisize Bush you better take a hard look Congress. After all, they were the ones who voted for everything and wouldn't heed Bushe warnings about Fannie and Freddie he had been giving for years. Barnie & Dodd were raking in too much money and being pc to give a hoot about the rest of the country.
    Maybe one of these days some of you will grow up and take a look at history.

    December 30, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. Jessie fron Texas

    This is America! The American people have spoken (Nov. 4th). We need to accept the new prsedident, support himand get over it if you didn't vote for hi You can move out of the country as you know Americans are well liked in foreign countries. You know we have choices, THIS IS AMERICA!!

    December 30, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. Alan

    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.

    Note to ANYONE renting a room from someone named Marc in Northern VA for $1,000/night. This guy hates you. He mocks you publicly and thinks you're idiots. CANCEL YOUR RESERVATIONS and find a place to stay where you might be appreciated as human beings.

    December 30, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. Irving, TX - Loves President Obama

    PEOPLE – get over it. Obama is America's President, if you don't like it then leave......... Well I guess times have not changed if people can't accept the fax that Black people can hold a high office such as the President of the US....

    Come On........

    December 30, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. kelly WI

    Only fools would go there in that mess to worship their new god.
    I won't bother watching it on t.v. either. It will just be a reminder of what we're going to have to face and get taxed for in the future.

    December 30, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. Jim in Fla

    How long are we going to have to deal with closed-minded conservatives and their hateful world view? I am tired of the ignorance and selfishness. Let's get behind our new president and make this country a place to be proud of again. The world is still watching.

    December 30, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. Happy Canuck

    To my American Brothers and Sisters:
    I'm old enough to remember when America was truly a great country. I went to college in the U.S. (on scholorship) and my profession has taken me to several states to work for extended periods of time so I am qualified to offer my opinion as a person who understands your country. As I read all of the comments posted I was shocked but not surprised by the divisivness in your country after the election was over. I watched every debate on T.V. (my wife is an American) with great interest and after getting through all the B.S. I would have voted for B.O. as well. In the beginning we were big J.M. supporters until 3 things happened:
    1) Naming Sarah Palin as his running mate when she was not even remotley qualified to hold the office of President and considering J.M.'s medical history and age she was litterly a heart beat away from the presidency.
    2) When J.M. pulled that stunt when he suspended his campain after the stock markets went into a tailspin.
    3) The constant attack ads when he was not offering any solutions.

    American politics have deteriorated into nothing more than a mud slinging contest, its no longer about the candiate its more about how much dirt you can dig up on a person. The commentators both left and right are equally guilty of presenting conflicting reports about each candidate when all there really interested in is there own personal agenda's.
    The election is over people!!! Its time to put the country first and rally around your new President. America is in bad shape, banks are collapsing, the auto industry is hanging on by its finger nails, several states are on the verge of bankrupcy, unemployment is high, people are loosing their homes, the military is hemridging money and lives in both conflicts and people are scared.
    What always made America great is the way its citizens could rally around the flag and do the impossible, the world is watching and were all depending on America to pull us all out of this mess.
    B.O. has huge expectations being put on him, we need America to show the world leadership, because thats what America does best. God bless all of you and God Bless America!!

    December 30, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  13. Eric

    As a DC area resident, let me suggest that you just stay home and watch this on television!

    I realize that this is a historic event, but weather conditions can be terrible in the middle of January. In 1985 it was so bitterly cold that they held the ceremony INSIDE and cancelled the parade. Anyone who went out to see it, saw absolutely nothing! Regardless of the weather with the crowd that is being perdicted some people will be standing, literally, a mile or more from the Capitol. Do just want to be able to say you were in Washington that day? Because you won't be able to experience any of the ceremony from that far back.

    December 30, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. Proud American

    It wasn't until I read some of the nasty comments for Republican that I rememberedd today was "National Village Idiot Day" From the looks of some of their comments it seems most didn't take part in the 30 mile parade they planned for today. Idiots

    December 30, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. obama-mama

    I 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 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. Rizzo

    Got to for a copy of Obama's birth certificate and proof of its authenticity

    December 30, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. kelly WI

    Pretty pitiful people that have to feel happy in their lives by going to an inaugarual.
    I don't think any future president has to do this. Just go on t.v. and spent the money on something worth while like an animal shelter.
    I see where those "hard working" congress people are taking their annual raise. LIke all those millionaries (mostly dems) really need it.
    The 3 richest people in the Senate are dems. Kohl, Kerry and Kennedy. Take a guess as to which inherited it, married it or earned it.

    December 30, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. Irving, TX - Loves President Obama

    Eileen, WOW you are such a nasty person to have written us a statement. I just bet you work with Obama supporters or maybe not because who could stand to work with you.

    I hope God will bless you and one day change your heart.......God be with you.

    December 30, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Martha Hussein Baker for Barack

    The hubby and I will be sipping cocktails on the beach in Honolulu enjoying the moment when Barack Hussein Obama is sworn in. More fun than freezing in Washington D.C.

    December 30, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. Soccer Nana

    @ Eileen, TCM, PatNY, Lucas Hammond, GOP faithful, Rob in NJ, George, Andy, Pete, Marc in VA, Kristen, Marc M, bj in TX, Rob Stumpf, and all naysayers who will leave a negative comment:

    You people are obviously unhappy; tense; more than likely living in a trailer park; driving a very old car or pick up; in debt; on guns you can't afford to buy ammunition for; and unemployed. Since you want to be under the leadership of Palin and McCain you have two choices – move to Alaska (where you can see Russia from your house) or move to Arizona to be near one of McCain’s several houses. Those two people probably won't even acknowledge your presence, because they will see you as being "beneath" them.

    Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. Whether you admit to it or not God bless you and God bless America!

    December 30, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. JP

    RE: 1) This is a slap in the face to the last 43 presidents, good, bad, or indifferent. Here we go with the "special" parameters.

    It's safe to say that George Washington didn't have secret service agents, snipers with infrared scopes, motorcade escorts, armored limos, bullet-proof screens, bomb-sniffing dogs, etc. . .

    The office of the presidency and the US government, as a whole, still belong to the people, at the end of the day. I know it's hard to believe after the past 8 years, but it does. If the people want to be there to witness the swearing in of their president, then they should be allowed to be there and the city should prepare accordingly.

    December 30, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Pete

    Boy, if this can be described in any way by using the term endurance, I feel sorry for the organizers spouses, if you know what I mean.

    December 30, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. Hi...I'm Tom......please stop the "messiah" crap!!!

    He's a 1st Term Senator with no experience. He's not the messiah.........he wasn't sent from the heavens.

    People wonder where people like Jim Jones and other cults find their followers.........ignorant people looking for hope and think Barrack Hussain Obama is the answer to their prayers........ridiculious!!!

    Please stop with the "messiah"'s ignorant and stupid!!!!!

    December 30, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. herb

    I loooooove reading all the sour grapes comments in this thread:

    "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?"

    haha lol. Sore Loser! God I hope at least your football team is in the playoffs you little baby.

    December 30, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. Rob Stumpf

    Wishing for any President to fail is not patriotic.<<

    It can be. It will be better for Obama to fail, this way America can get the liberal sickness out of our system. Obama's Presidency won't last that long in the scheme of things, so it's not a big deal. He'll fail, we'll get him out, and everything will eventually work out.

    Many times in life you have to take a step back before you can move foward. Too many young people have bought into the idea of an all powerful government, with a celebrity President solving everyone's problems! Except that it's a childish fantasy. They have to learn their lesson....and then America can be great again.

    December 30, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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