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. Nobama

    I'm pretty sure he'll be able to overcome the infrastructure problems. He probably has a fleet of unicorns at the ready and the highways will turn into rainbows. Either that, or he'll open up negotiations with the trains and busses, which will agree to hold 1000 people each instead of 100.

    December 30, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. Dan


    "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."

    BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. You hate the guy, we get that. But your charges are based on zero evidence. Get over it already, crybaby.

    December 30, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. Rob Stumpf

    Barry's term of office will only last about 1400 days, it won't be that will be over before you know it. The faster those days go, the better. Then in 2012 we can get to work on electing a real President.

    December 30, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. Maria Davis-Chicago

    This is why it's called a democracy!!! People are entitled to do what they want to do and not to mention, voice their opinions. If people want to go and see him in person, then they should. This is a historic event so it's only proper that we treat it like one. I wish I could be there too!!!

    December 30, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. mr.mike

    TCM's comment about Obama "buying the White House through a sea of corruption" means he was asleep in 2000 – Bush's "election" was one of the biggest frauds ever put over on the American people. Remember daddy's supreme court handing him the White House – just like he was handed everything else in life? It was ONLY by voters coming out in record numbers in 2008 that the Republicans didn't game this election too. (And the jury is still out on the '04 election – which Bush "won" only by savaging Kerry with lies about his service and hijacking the Ohio vote. Yippee – eight years of misery are almost over!!!

    December 30, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. Virginia

    Thank goodness I have purposely planned to be away from any TV or radio all that day. I can hardly stand to think what will happen that day because the American people have been fooled into thinking this is a good thing. Nothing could be further from the truth–we will all be living with socialized medicine and government interference until Obama is booted from office, hopefully in 2012!! God help us all!!!!

    December 30, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. Frank, Detroit

    Interessting how so many people here suddenly suggest to hold a "privat, indoor" inauguration, that it is suddenly to expensive, that the mall will suffer or that it's "better to watch it on TV then being there".

    Does this have anything to do with your fears that the nation, in fact the whole world will see the images of a black, Democratic president being sworn in with 2 million+ people in attendance? Would that maybe further enhance the images of Bushs second inauguration, where he could not take the usual walk the last mile but instead the motorcade had to pick up speed because his limo was being pelted with rotten eggs?

    Everybody who voted for Obama, would like to see him sworn in, is fit enough to make it and want's to send a message to the nation and the world: go ahead! I'll be there, somewhere, no matter how, no matter what, and no one, not even the inauguration comittee, can bring my spirits down! Imagine telling your grandchildren about that very special day...

    December 30, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Terry, Dallas Texas

    Man some of you people are bitter! Start getting used to hearing him called Mr. President folks. It happens in 21 more days.

    December 30, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. Blago

    I am still waiting for my ticket

    December 30, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. susan

    I've been to two, had to miss a third due to the extremely cold weather. The first one I went to was in an office bldg. at 17th@G, with lots of food, drink, and a bathroom. The second one, I actually had to work half the day and was presented with parade route tickets, was young, and partied half the day into the night. I will be watching this one on tv. I have no desire to stand outside and be uncomfortable and unhappy for hours. The office with the food, drink, and bathroom was the way to go, for sure.

    December 30, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. dr.mimi de la cuz



    December 30, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. Chris

    Overexaggerate *is* a word. Thanks for the lesson, idiot.

    December 30, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Marc M

    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.

    December 30, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. Nicole R

    Are you people serious? I lived in Silver Spring, MD for a year. Attended the 4th of July Celebration which may be smaller, but no less of a headache. The Mall is always open to the public. I think it's just a slow news day for CNN and they had to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

    And seriously, the people who are throwing so much hate at Obama and his supporters should take a look in the mirror because I think what you are seeing in others is actually what you see in yourself.

    December 30, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. Bravado in Boston

    With all the animosity, and divisive commentary, I am surprised anyone would want to be President.

    But, since this president will actually have the popular vote, unlike the outgoing Hack, I am certain he will work for all of us...not just we libs and dems who really are in control of the great USA. Don't worry repubs, we will carry you along as we have done now for, oh, over 140 years.

    Just remember that The Party of Lincoln is now what the Democratic Party stands for. (grin). You guys should change your party's name to, oh, something like The Wigs, and get on with it.

    Now then, on to the "healing of the nation" part of what we dems and libs do best.........

    December 30, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  16. Meghan

    I have tickets to inauguration and I can see the Capitol building from my house. I will have a great time! I am from Michigan, so bring on the snow and the cold weather!

    December 30, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  17. Patrick Gearhart


    To look back and point to the many photo's of this Historic Event and say "I was there!"

    December 30, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  18. Suzie McKay

    What is wrong with the Republicans making comments here? Barack Obama WILL be our next President and it's up to all Americans to stand behind him. The time for partisan politics is OVER! With the economy in shambles, our international reputation in shreds and a disastrous health care crisis, we need everyone to pull together to make the United States a stronger country.

    I am ashamed of you.

    December 30, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  19. mimi123

    get over it he would be our president!!!

    December 30, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. Sally

    I would love to be there, however I cannot make the trip. But I'll be watching.

    Some of the ideas on this board are pretty good, I think. Have the inauguration in the Congress with very select few audience and tv coverage. I like that idea – saves lots of money. But I also like the idea of an inauguration "event". Outside, big elaborate thing. This is history being made. I think the more people who can see it in person the better. But much too costly. So I can see both sides here.

    Can't agree with those that say "woopee another inauguration" or "who cares". Maybe you don't care, but there are 65 million other people who do. And besides – this is soooo not just another inauguration.

    LOVE George's idea about asking for NYPD's partication/guidance/ whatever. They certainly have experience at handling large, excitable crowds. I had not heard about the Inauguration Committee deliberately refusing to do that. Seems shortsighted of them – something I have not seen from the Obama camp. Hopefully that is incorrect, or the committee will change its mind.

    And then there is the comment about clean toilets, and port-a-potties up and down the street. Someone is fixated on toilets. I'll let you continue with that fixation and move on to more important things.

    December 30, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  21. lisa

    To all the Republican Haters on here...please stop HATING! Your time is up, now accept it or shut up!

    December 30, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. nancy

    The last time I looked at the calendar january 20th was on a workday
    tuesday as a matter of fact. Do these people have jobs that are attending the JOKE OF THE CENTURY!

    December 30, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  23. twists30460

    Why don't you give this guy a chance. He certainly can't screw things up more then they are now.

    As far as traffic, and other problems in DC, blame it on Homeland Security. The Secret Service is the agency responsible for closing all of the roads, bridges, etc. If it wasn't for all of the disgruntled Republicans and nut jobs out there maybe they could ease up a bit.

    In other words, if you can't deal with it stay at home and watch TV

    December 30, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  24. fred

    TCM, while I didn't vote for Obama, he has to be your president as much as mine. This is historical, and while there may have not been as much of a hype in the media if say McCain won, America spoke, and Obama is our president-elect and we must pray that he succeeds, because this is America that we're talking about. Not just a political party. If Obama fails, America will fall in line. It won't just be the democratic party.

    December 30, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. Big Buford

    If all the money that is spent by everyone producing and attending this political pop festival could be pooled together... it would be enough to help a lot of people who are in severe financial distress in the USA. There are predicted to be millions in attendance each spending a thousand dollars or MORE... to travel, and on other related expenses...what a waste of money when it is sorely needed for more important purposes. A mega expensive back-patting party does not show me a wise common sence president.

    December 30, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
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