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. Terry

    I don't see any reason for all the hoopla. Why not a quiet swearing-in ceremony in the Oval Office with the Court Justice and the outgoing president. Obama could be sworn in, he could make a short televised speech, and the public could enjoy the televised image of him sitting at his desk and getting to work.

    December 30, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. Cory

    The way i see Obama won the election. Whether you voted for him or not, (i did not vote for him) is neither here nor there right now. The fact is that he won the election, he is our new President and we all need to support him as long as he is our President. Until the people of this Great Country learn to support our leaders, we are not going to gain anything. We are self destructing. How many of the complainers and whiners ever taken the time to email or call their congressmen and senators about any of the issues they complain about every day? Obama is our next President and that is just the way it is. Nothing racial about it. I am a White Male American and i will support him for as long as he is in office. I may not agree with everything he does or says, but i will support him. When the next election comes, his actions between now and then will determine whether i vote for him then or someone else. Yall have a great day

    December 30, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. Hina

    I live five miles from the White House (hiking distance) and I'm planning to be there! Unless the weather is absolutely monstrous, I don't want to miss this exciting event! And I'm sure everyone else who's attending feels the same way. They want to be there to take part in this celebration, however far away we be from the actual inauguration ceremony.

    December 30, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  4. Libby, Reston, VA

    JohnT: Really? Bush had two elaborate ceremonies to commemorate his "wins" - we aren't supposed to do the same thing for the most monumentous election of our time??

    Besides, it's W who got us into this economic disaster - if anyone should be sacrificing, it should be him. (Remember Clinton left us with a freaking surplus - you people have either selective memories or no memory at all.)

    December 30, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Anon

    Thank goodness for TV and video! You wouldn't find me at that "zoo!"

    December 30, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. MaryanneAZ

    We are so blessed to have Barack Obama become our next President! This will be an historic occasion and yet will be toned down as much as humanly possible. The Obama team has planned well and wants to allow as many people who are interested be there to witness the history making event. The 69 million plus of us who voted for him can be there to witness the inauguration event as has been the practice for decades. The inauguration is also being funded in large part by donations from online donors who supported the primary and general election. I know that I have donated to the fund. I pray every day that those who are so unhappy to have lost this election cycle will set aside their anger and join with us to work toward rebuilding our Nation. We need everyone to do all that we can to turn things around. This is OUR country and we need to reclaim it. Do something to make a difference. Start now. Donate to a food bank for starters. You'll feel better. God Bless.

    December 30, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Laverne

    To GOP faithful: If my memory serves me correctly, a bunch of so called religious right wings prayed for heavy rain during the Democratic Convention and in return it was a BEAUTIFUL DAY followed by heavy rains in Minneapolis just before the Republican convention. And if it does happen to be bad weather, what you will see if millions of patriotic Americans STILL gathered in treacherous weather to see OUR PRESIDENT ELECT OBAMA take the oath of office, oh what a day that will be! I betcha your curiousity will get the best of you and you will have the TV tuned in all day to see OUR historic day. Oh and by the way, he will be your president too, hee hee!

    December 30, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. Bill

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

    When i see a real birth certificate I'll consider this man my president.


    Did you ever demand to see Bush's? Do you have any proof he was a citizen when he took the oath? Remember, as the right-wing reminded it's opposition so many times over the last eight years, questioning the President is un-patriotic. Why do you hate America, Marc?

    December 30, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. Rick

    I'm singing a Christmas song = "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!"
    People having to wait three hours while trying to get in the area to watch T.V == Not for me! In fact, DC hasn't had a good snow fall in awhile and freezing temperatures. The good think about this day is a “federal holiday” in DC.

    December 30, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. Proud American

    Republicans Village Idiots will be holding the annual Idiot parade today. This year parade will be 30 miles through Antarctica. Leaders are asking everyone to bring a jacket, in case it get cold.

    December 30, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. Whynot Johnson

    I'm wondering why so many lefties get nasty when people ask for a birth certificate from the "King in waiting"

    It is actually very simple. Why does the new Kenyan president provide a mircofiche copy of his birth certificate? Where is any paperwork generated from the day he was born? Where is the doctor? Hospital records? Billing information? ANYTHING from the day he was born.

    Why do his Kenyan relatives insist he was born there?

    Why did his Indonesian step father claim he was a citizen of that country?

    McCain answered questions relating to his birth in the Panama Canal Zone honestly.

    The Kenyan on the other hand, lawyered up and with the help of the Socialist party refused to provide proof.

    An honest man does not have to hide behind an army of lawyers about something like this,,,,,,,,,,,unless of course he has something to hide.

    December 30, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  12. slipthalo

    Far too many nasty remarks over an event that takes place every 4 years for the elected President. Of course this year it's very different as it can be taken as a dual celebration......the inauguration of our new President and then end of the last 8 years of governance.
    For those with the nasty comments, the event is being funded with some federal funds as all inaugurations are with the overage being funded by private donations. I wonder what you would be saying if the McCain/Palin ticket had won? Of course, the crowd control wouldn't be an issue since no too many would want to attend but the federal funds would be used just the same – wellllll, Sarah might need new clothes for her and her family – you know, the Empress would have needed new clothes.
    BTW, where is President Bush? Seems as if he's already left office since he has delegated all the handling of breaking events to others in his group of cronies and is in seclusion in TX. Doesn't seem to realize he's still President until 1/20/09??
    Take your nasty comments and run to the neocon sites where they will fit in with the rest of the ridiculous, unintelligent and deranged remarks.
    We held an election and voted for our new President. Obama won and 1/20/09 is his day in the sun – just as happened for the elected Presidents in the past.
    Your lack of intelligence is showing......

    December 30, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Whatever the conditions are, it will be worth it to the brave souls in attendance just to take part in a historical event. If I lived anywhere near, I'd certainly be there.

    December 30, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. Griff

    I am always listening to CCN Live... I used to get a Krick in my neck; trying to watch TV, answer you're questions... I've been around here for the Past 5 months....

    December 30, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. Ashsmith

    Something to consider:

    I've read that restroom facilities will be EXTREMELY limited. I know that this is going to sound nuts, but people might want to take a cue from the astronaut's playbook and wear Depends undergarments...just in case. Certainly, I would recomend that anyone with a child at the inauguration make the child wear a pull-up. As the mother of an 8-year-old, I know that their restroom needs can arise quite suddenly.

    Personally, I'm going to enjoy the inaugural festivities in the comfort of my home (complete with sanitary restrooms, of course) via my HDTV tuned in to CNN.

    December 30, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. Texas2Step

    Thank you America for finally getting it right this time! Thanks to all the supporters of President Obama..your hard work paid off!

    December 30, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. IndyVoter

    Republican –

    You obviously don't know what you are talking aobut. Private groups & individuals are contributing their own $ to supplement the government inauguration funds in order to make sure that everyone can participate and that there is sufficient security for the people attending.

    December 30, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. Richard Rohde

    I see Proud American back showing that liberal empathy and reminding us that everyone, no matter how extreme still has the right of free speech, at least until January 20th, when his kind take over.

    December 30, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. Texas2Step

    To the Naysayers and the people with nasty comments, this is for you...."And the 44th President of the United States is Baraka Obama..."

    December 30, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. Lori, Houston Texas

    Gee, with all this republican hate shown here, I hope the secret service and DC police are out in force on Jan 20. Concidering the Republican base is now mostly racists and white supremicists, I will stay home and pray everyone remains safe and sound for this long awaited day of national pride. God Bless America – those who put Country Before Party – and God Bless Barack Obama. May He give Barack and Joe the strength and wisdom to successfully pull America out of the ditch Bush/Cheney put us in.

    December 30, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. Bosworth

    True, some of the Republican comments here are crude, divisive and probably uncalled for. Of course, that's EXACTLY what I've been reading from a lion's share of Democrat supporters for the past 8 years. In fact, I'd have to say that some of the anti-Obama invective is pretty tame compared to the "hitler-ad-nauseum" diatribe aimed at Bush.

    Democrats may be thrilled and proud to have their team on top. But, don't whine about the criticism from the losing side – foaming-at-the-mouth rhetoric cuts BOTH ways. Now, it's the REPUBLICANS turn to pule and moan about the state of this country's leadership.

    Don't worry – you'll get your chance again. Sooner or later there'll be another Republican in the White House for you to savagely attack.

    December 30, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  22. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Typical liberal blog:
    1. Comment on how awful the hateful comments are
    2. Make a hateful comment about Bush, Republicans, Palin or all three
    3. Never realize what hypocrites you are

    December 30, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  23. John

    David, you said it perfectly...

    December 30, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. richard

    I will give the same respect to Obama that the democrats have gave Bush the last 8 years. Remember we must be fair.

    December 30, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. Dalton Fury

    David...why do you think anyone cares that you blindly believe Hussein’s birth certificate had to be approved before he got elected? You can’t even spell “someone” correctly, so just saying you trust this imaginary “someone” is proof enough not to trust this “someone”. “Someone” should make sure you don’t continue spreading un-educated ignorance about documents you haven’t seen and know nothing about.

    December 30, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
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