Your Inauguration Experiences

IMG00006-20090120-0949, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

So I’m dying to hear your stories. I’ve heard from a number of friends who had tickets to the inauguration but because of security glitches they weren’t able to get in. For the folks that went down – tell me – what was it like? How long did it take to get in and out? Anyone watch the parade?

I decided to watch the inauguration at the Red Derby and it was fantastic. It was projected on the wall and there were enough folks there to have a good community feel along with clapping, laughing, and cheering. Yet, it wasn’t so crowded that you couldn’t get food or drinks. I highly recommend this option four years from now.

Thanks to a reader for sending the above photo. Remember to send your photos to [email protected] or tag them in flickr with popobamaweekcontest.

So what was your favorite part of the festivities?

55 Comment

  • My girlfriend and I were unexpectedly given purple tickets on Saturday night and were absolutely thrilled! Turns out we would have been much better off without them. While two groups of friends without tickets departing Petworth at 4 am and 7 am go to the Mall and joined the celebratory crowds, we weren’t so lucky. We left Petworth at 6 am, took the 70 bus down to Chinatown and were in line at the Purple Gate before 7 am. The line snaked all the way back into the 395 tunnel–it ran the entire length of the tunnel–and we were about halfway down. We were inside the tunnel with the line mostly not moving until we inched our way out after 10:40 am. That’s over 3 1/2 hours underground. Disturbingly, there were no police visibly present in the tunnel. It was *packed*, and the crowd yelling and chanting at people cutting in line was almost frightening at times–I think the lack of crowd control and lack of barriers to separate those in line and those just coming into the tunnel was an unpardonable failure in planning. Can you imagine thousands of people (I’d estimate at least five, probably more) stuck in a cold tunnel underground for 3+ hours with no law enforcement? It’s really lucky nothing happened.

    When the crowd finally started moving out of the tunnel, it was apparent that there had been no crowd control outside the tunnel either, as the group from inside the tunnel–that had been waiting for hours–merged with people just arriving on the scene. This made us furious of course, because we could have started hours later and ended up at the same spot. Evidently they had been letting these latecomers through the gates for hours while those in line were stuck in the tunnel, because by the time we got to the Purple Gate (around 11:30 am) the gates were closed, people were being turned back, and there were thousands of (sometimes chanting) people with purple tickets left outside the gate. The crowd trying to get in through the Purple Gate was actually the largest single grouping of people I saw all day–more people and more crowded than we were in the tunnel. That means there were a ton more people with tickets than they had space.

    Now, I can understand (sort of) if they gave slightly more tickets than there was space, accounting for people not showing up. But the satellite photos on CNN show the crowd at the purple crowd to be as big and as dense as the area we were supposed to fit into. Did they really give twice as many tickets out, and not think that would lead to crowd control problems? Also, if they’re going to plan an event where you don’t plan to let everyone in, it would be nice if they let those who were in line the longest in.

    Eventually some of us we were routed around to one of the general admission gates that was still letting people into the Mall. But once we got in we found we weren’t really on the Mall–we were still north of Constitution, and there were no screens or speakers set up so this overflow crowd had gone through security to get to an area where nothing could be seen or heard. We ended up leaving before the oath was take and watched the swearing-in from the Chipotle in Chinatown. Talk about disappointing.

    I can’t believe that with all the planning that went into this event, nobody thought to have barriers and/or officers assigned to crowd control at intersections were the line merged with other groups. And if they were planning on warehousing thousands and thousands in the 395 tunnel, they should have planned a way to separate incoming and outgoing crowds. The situation as it played out was frustrating (we missed a once in a lifetime opportunity), unfair, and potentially very unsafe. And just plain stupid.

    At least we have one positive note: Barack Obama is now President of the United States!!!

  • And now I’m off to party!

  • i also had purple tickets and spent 4.5 hours in the purple tunnel of doom before being turned away and walking back to my digs on capitol hill. I got in line about 6

  • We had purple tickets and got to the mall about 8 am. We walked the length (1 mile?) of the 3rd Street tunnel and were stuck there. Flash forward 4 hours and we were being denied from the purple gate, and then every single north gate on the mall to the White House. We listened to the inaugural address on a radio feed on a street corner at 14th and I. Extremely disappointing day. From what I can gather, the purple gate never opened. At the end of the day, at least W is no longer president.

  • I also spent my time relaxing at Red Derby. Got a great seat, had a yummy brunch, and enjoyed a big screen view of the ceremonies. Couldn’t have been better.

  • We just barely got in with purple tickets. “Purplegate” (as we are calling it) was a complete disaster. The purple section was not well organized in the slightest. We formed a facebook group about it:

  • I had a blue ticket, left Petworth around 6:30am and arrived on the mall around 11am. The crowd was bad, but in good spirits. I rode the Metro to Waterfront and walked to the mall guided by roadblocks, barriers, police and over enthusiastic volunteers. I almost didn’t make it in due to the fact we had to fight the people with silver tix crossing Independence. A good day overall.

  • Left my house at 7:00….got to 7th street and D at 7:45…slowly got smooshed in a crowd of people waiting to get through security…did not move for 3 hours…heard a water main had broken and everyone will probably not get in…squeezed me frozen ass back out of the crowd…went home and watched it all on TV.

  • My boyfriend and I decided at the last minute to go down to the mall…a coworker dropped us off at dupont at 10 am and we got to the Washington Monument at about 10:30, where we watched on the jumbotron. It was a great experience, just to be there. Leaving was a bit of a challenge…it took us 90 minutes to get off the mall, but everyone was really chill about it and we met lots of people in the crowd.

    I’m SOOO glad we decided to do it! We were way in the back but the vibe was great.

  • globalizati, I heard the same things from friends who had Purple tickets, though they did manage to get in at the very last minute.

    I, ticketless, left from H street NE around 8 am and finally got a place to watch around the Washington Monument around 10, it was pretty crazy, a lot of streets blocked off, no one seemed to know anything, but we figured it out and got there eventually. And I certainly got a lot of exercise, I must have walked 10 miles at least getting around the city.

    But wasn’t it great to be there, it was electric, uplifting, beautiful, inspiring, and I’m so glad I was able to witness an important moment of history. Sure is part of the beautiful life living in DC.

  • We left Columbia Heights around 6:30, took the 14th St bus down to L. From there, we walked west to 19th and then south to Virginia/WWII/Washington Monument. Absolutely no issues getting in, walked up by the Washington Monument, saw a beautiful sunrise sky, and then up to one of the jumbotrons near the American History Museum. The only issue was the video/sound sync, which was distracting and could have been easily fixed. Otherwise, it was just kinda cold. Most people were friendly and happy, cheering a whole lot for the new administration and standing silently (and occasionally booing) for the old one.

    The biggest issue was getting out of there – no one knew what was going on. Ending up getting stuck on 14th & Independence for a while before heading farther south to D, where it suddenly cleared up at Maine. We had to walk up to 23rd along Virginia before being able to head homeward near Foggy Bottom Metro. Tried to catch both the 16th and 14th St buses, but were passed up at the stops despite having plenty of room on those buses. We ended our day at Five Guys around 3:30, like many, many other people. It was a great day, really, and I couldn’t imagine staying home for it.

  • We left around 9am and by 10:30 were part of the giant crowd around the Washington Monument. Though we could hardly see the Capitol let alone the inauguration, we had a good view of the jumbotrons and it was great to be part of the crowd.

  • I was one of the 5,000 lucky people to get a ticket for the parade. My friends and I originally planned on leaving at 8:30 or 9:00, but after a frantic text message from a friend about the lines, we left a little before 8.

    I used the 14th and Penn Ave entrance, and the line was long, but moved quickly. A lot of people waited in the line thinking they could get on the mall only to find out they couldn’t right before the entrance. It was all really painless. We got in a little after 9.

    My complaints are that it was cold, and the parade was over an hour behind. Also, people were let in until the parade started, so we didn’t need to arrive as early as we did. There was a definite overestimation of the amount of people that would attend the parade. We ended up leaving right after President Obama went by, because we were so cold. There was a lot of excitement, but not enough to keep us warm. It was really awesome to see the President and his family go by though, and worth it.

  • We waited at a bus stop at Kansas for a bus at almost 10 am. A couple passing by in a car offered a ride downtown to two total strangers. We were at Gallery Place by a little after 10. Had to travel west to 18th in order to get through to the mall. The crowds were great. The mood was jovial, upbeat, spirited. We arrived at the World War II Memorial on time for the swearing in which we watched from a distance in between people’s heads on the jumbotrons. Among the things we saw: an old woman watching passersby, smiling and crying “Long time coming! Looong time!”; a young man holding up a sign that read “One Nation under a Groove”. The speech was great. The words I needed to hear. They rang true and the message was fresh. As we passed a Subway on the way to Dupont overheard a woman say, “All is right in the world. Obama is president and I have a sandwich.”

  • we walked down 7th street from ledroit park, couldn’t get in, walked through the tunnel to SW, it was complete chaos and they were directing people to walk west to 14th street to get onto the mall. at that point it was about 11 and we decided just to return home and see it on TV. good call. the police were very disorganized IMO.

  • We left Bloomingdale at 6:30am and everytime we got close to a check point, it seemed like it got shut down. We walked a tremendous distance, but I am glad we were able to position ourselves in good view of the jumbotron near the Washington Monument. It was very disappointing that we could not get back out to Constitution, since we were on a pre-approved list to watch from a building on the parade route. We had to go through the 3rd St tunnel both coming and going.

    I was also amazed at the lack of directional guidance or security coordination. We were in a few very scary situations where someone could have easily been trampled.

  • Took the Green Line from GA Ave/Petworth to Gallery Place at got there a little before 8. Tried the 7th and D entrance to the Mall, but gave up after about 20 minutes of no movement in the crowd. Moved down to 12th and E, but gave up after about 45 minutes of no movement. Went up to I and down to 18th, and it was a smooth, straight shot down to Constitution. Was in place in front of the Washington Monument by about 10:30. Coming back up 18th afterward was really slow, but stopped at my office at 17th and Penn for some hot coffee and lunch, and watched CNN on a big screen in a comfy chair til the Obamas were in place at the WH. Went outside to see the color guard and the empty limos go by, and then walked the few miles back to Petworth instead of doing the metro sardine thing again. Great day, but the Park Service could have made getting onto the Mall a bit easier. The satellite photos show that it was nowhere near full when they closed off the gates east of the Monument.

  • Vonstallin

    Bicycling by far was the best way to go.
    I woke up at 9:30am Jump on my new Bike I just got yesterday and at 10am I rode down via 11th street.

    Bike valet was filled up by 10:45am.

    Lots of misinformation. I tried to get in at 10th street and was told to goto 21st and H street. Tons of people so I pedaled up to “I” street flew over to 19th street and headed down. Not many people at the WW2 memorial when I got there. But I ended up watching from behind a tree.

    After the Inauguration I had already planed my escape route thru Main ave to Rock Creek Parkway. Nice 7 miles of no cars, but bitter cold. Got home at 2pm and watched the parade on CNN.

    Great Vibe…lots of love from strangers.
    If this was the 70’s I’m sure a big orgy would have broke out 🙂

    Here are a few pics…

    Bike valet. max capacity…..

    About 4 or so blocks of people walking down…this is when I passed by on I street.

    I had to watch here behind the tree, but i could see at least 3 other jumbotrons.

    what you didnt hear on TV was the whole field Boooing Bush when he was on screen, or all the people giving his helicopter the middle finger when he flew over.

    I saw alot of British and Canadian’s…

    I took the ultra nice and empty route home.
    This was a total win win for me…Bike it…its the only way..

    I stop at one of my favorite spots.
    Its a historic black cemetary that you can only see in the winter time once the leaves fall off the street.

    Well it was great being amoung the love…
    I wish it was the 70’s 🙂 lol

    here is a link to my intire photobucket. Only 70 pics.

  • I live on 14th, so i figured I could just saunter down 14th to the mall. Left @6 am with the crew. Bad Idea Jeans.

    14th was blocked off. So we ended up walking parallel to the mall, crossing North Capitol, and coming around the Southside of the Mall and getting in that way (did a big loop essentially)

    That was fine. Took a 395 tunnel to get there, and it was just 4 hours of waiting in the bitter cold. Found a nice spot to hear the speaker and see the monitor.

    The escape from the Mall was the problem. The jumbotrons said that 7th street was closed, but 12th and 14th were open. I didn’t realize they meant the Southside. Ended up going West towards the monument until finally we got to around 22nd street. Lunched in Georgetown and made it back home.

    Great Speech
    Great Vibe. The fact that people were so calm and civilized when it could have gotten very scary because of the poor crowd control was a testament to this great city and nation.

  • I was in disbelief after reading about the people who had purple tix who ended up spending the whole morning in the tunnel, just awful…especially for people who traveled huge distances to get to DC.

  • I worked 12 hour shifts waiting on standby in case there were mass arrests (of which there were none), so I pretty much clocked the equivalent of two weeks pay in the last few days. I worked until 545 am this morning, went home and slept three hours and went back to work. Big thumbs up for MPD overtime!

  • I left my place at 10am. walked down to the washington monument area (had no tickets) and watched on a jumbo. hit no snags but exiting the mall with 2 million other people that were all funneled up 18th at a snails pace was a bit of a bother. sounds like I will have the last laugh when I go into work today and see my coworkers who were rubbinig it in my face that they got purple tickets… but that does suck so I wont throw tooo much salt on their wounds.

  • I watched it on my TV in my warm house while I answered emails and took a tutorial for work. It was stress free and I had plenty of elbow room in my front row seat! Oh and snacks 🙂

    I thought the poet made a poor choice, it sounded like she was reading a ledger of all the things she saw that day. I was hoping it would be something more inspirational…maybe the ending was? I stopped listening half way through. I loved the quartet, it rocked!

  • We cut bait on trying to get on the Mall between the Capitol and the Wash Monument, took a brisk morning hike west through downtown, and perched ourselves on the WWII Memorial to watch the show on jumbotron. Sure, I could have seen the same thing on TV in the comfort of my own home or even joined others in a bar, and my frost-bitten ass-cheeks (marble well chilled is surprisingly resistant to warming up) might have appreciated that choice, but it was amazing just to be in the crowd. It was incredible to see the faces and sense the excitement in the air — a real moment of collective reverence and unity — anecdotally, I’d say best relayed by noting that 1.4 million people remained quiet and took in a 4-min. classical quartet for violin, cello, clarinet, and piano without complaint. It’s something I hope … but doubt … I will experience again in my lifetime.

  • Got purple tickets the night before from a friend. Left 14th and Harvard at 6:15 in the morning. Never saw a bus on 14th until it didnt matter anymore. Went to the purple gate madness at 1st and Constitution, finally realized where the line was supposed to be and began our trek to the end of it – in SW, on the other end of the 3rd St. Tunnel. Realized there was no possible way this would work out, called my buddy and said thanks for the tickets, but we were heading to general admission areas and did not even bother to attempt waiting. We then headed down E St. SW to 14th St SW. Stood about 50 yards in front of the Washington Monument for the rest of the day, chatting with a lot of nice people, shivering, dancing and marching in place to keep the feeling in my feet.

    Right after Obama completed his oath, a guy standing next to me got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes. That was pretty cool.

    We exited with the masses, where things became so packed that we all truly became “one” as the new man in charge suggests. At one point a guy standing on a port-a-potty instructed the crowd to turn left and head away from the exit, which we all did (whether we wanted to or not). It helped a lot and finally got us all moving again. It was getting a little hairy there and i was just thankful this was not some drunken event where push would come to shove.

    When we finally got out of it all, we headed to Levante in Dupont for a bottle of wine and some lunch. Walked in and got a table right away, then watched the Presidential Luncheon on the tube. The restaurant erupted in cheers when MSNBC showed “W” heading out in his helicopter. Good riddance. The stream of people heading up 19th seemed never ending. The line out of Dupont metro was pretty nuts. I was glad I was walking home.

    All-in-all, an amazing day. Despite the cold and crowds I was very happy to be a part of this moment in history. Would do it again in a second.

  • BTW, much of the crowd broke after Obama’s speech, at least where I was. My big regret after watching the Daily Show last night was that I bolted for the exits and missed Rev. Lowery’s benediction:

    “….help us work for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.”


  • my favorite part was that obama aknowledged us nonbelievers in his speech!

  • No tickets to the Inauguration so we hopped the train down to L’Enfant Plaza (the boyfriend heard it was best to enter to the south). Ended up with great seats–in the first part of public seating, between the Art Gallery and the Air & Space Museum. Great view of the Capitol and a jumbotron. Of course, this was at 6:15 a.m. We had a long, cooooold wait ahead of us.

    It was EXITING the Mall that was horrendous. We attempted going back to L’Enfant, with thousands of other people. Unknown to everyone, only one of the entrances was open. No one seemed to know where they were going, streets were jam-packed, and to make things even worse, multiple ambulances were trying to push through the crowds. I was half tempted to get myself trampled on purpose so I could get on an ambulance and get the hell out of the mess. After the mess at L’Enfant, we actually ended up trying metro stations in ALL FOUR CITY QUADRANTS before landing at Gallery Place. Walked from L’Enfant (SW) to Capitol South (SE) to Union Station (NE) to Gallery Place (NW).

    Am I glad I was there? For the most part. Will I do it again? …

  • Oh, I forgot to add that at this time there were absolutely NO COPS to assist the mob. Poor planning on someone’s part.

  • We left Petworth at about 8:30 AM and took the metro to Gallery Place. Surprisingly, it was no big deal. Gallery Place was a little crowded because by that point they had to shut down L’enfant but it maybe took us 10 minutes to get out of the station.

    Once we exited it was pretty much chaos and no one really knew where to go… We had already decided before we left the house we were going to the back of the Mall. So, we decided to walk around to 18th Street. It sounds like we watched it in the same place as many others by the WWII Memorial. We left at maybe 10 minutes or so into Obama’s speech. It sounds like we made the right choice because we had no issues getting out or walking after we got out.

  • I wasn’t there, but I heard there was ton of trash strewn everywhere.

  • Left home at 7:30 to get on Metro at Fort Totten. Crammed on and rode South on Green Line, hoping to get off at L’Enfant to approach the Mall from the South (thinking we were so smart to avoid the parade routes.) We advised some other people to do the same including a nice family from North Carolina. I’ll always wonder where they ended up. They had a cute little boy with them. The train blazed through L’Enfant. The platform was too packed to stop. They offloaded us at SW Waterfront and we walked from there. Some people with townhouses on our route stood on their porches and cheered us on.

    When we got to 17th they directed Westward – straight into a bottleneck up against a fence that prevented us from crossing 18th or heading Northward. We had a funny sideways view of a Jumbotron between peoples’ heads and through a chain link fence. I spent more than two hours wedged behind two people who were over 6 feet tall, sometimes gaining a view when the crowd shifted and I stood on my frozen toes. There was some fear we would be trampled.

    Some genius next to us decided to sit down among the masses and many of us had a few words with his loudmouth girlfriend about all the reasons he should stand back up again (Namely that we were leaning with the full force of our bodies away from this dude to keep him from getting crushed.) She told us to mind our own business which was really annoying since I’d previously given her other friend my mitten warmers for her frozen hands.

    Most people were nice, though, and the crush of people kept us warm. At some points the police tried to bring vehicles through our section and yelled at us to step forward to let them pass. We yelled back that we had no room to move. We didn’t. It was hard to get my arms up. When people did push forward it felt hard to breathe.

    When Obama’s speech was over and we could finally move again we found a path South of the monument, near the tidal basin. We wished we had walked that way before – there was so much space there. Walked North through GW to Nooshi on L street for a bite. Got on the Red afterward at Farragut North and made it home without incident. Watched it all on Tivo again. Loved the final benediction. As one who sings and studies African American Spirituals, the words of his prayer resonated musically through time. He used words that evoked a struggle many centuries long and the songs that held a people up during the struggle. It was awesome.

    Friends who left late in the afternoon to go the parade had a much better view and in retrospect we might have had a better time had we gone with them rather than waking early to be sardines. Ah well.

  • Given the trash I saw I’d say the Toasty-toes manufacturers did a bang-up business.

    Inauguration 2009 – brought to you by Pepsi and toasty-toes.

  • My sister and her partner had a pair of the infamous Purple Tickets. They left our house around 6:30 am, took the Metro to Judiciary Square, and reached the Purple Gate around 7:30. Then everything went haywire. They were redirected to another gate and subsequently endured about 3 1/2 hours of wandering through the 395 tunnel and various mazes of barricades until they were finally let in to the ticketed area at the last minute and got to see the inauguration up close. So their adventure ended well, at least. I’m glad they finally got in because they had traveled from New York for the occasion.

    My wife and I got on the Metro around 8am intending to get off at L’Enfant Plaza and join the ticketless masses on the Mall. While on the train, we heard an announcement that L’Enfant Plaza station was closed and so everyone should exit at Gallery Place, but when we got to Gallery Place, it was announced that L’Enfant Plaza had reopened, so everyone stayed on. Then as we approached L’Enfant Plaza, we were greeted with the announcement that the station had been closed again, so everyone waved an angry farewell to DC and crossed the river to the Pentagon!

    After a long debate with some recriminations over whose fault it was that we were in this debacle, we exited the Metro at Pentagon and hopped on a shuttle bus that smoothly took us over the 14th Street bridge and dropped us off at the Smithsonian Metro stop. From there we walked with the crowd to the Washington Monument and by about 9:30 we had joined the tens of thousands of other citizens and visitors watching and cheering from that location.

    Quite a roller coaster of a morning but in the end a total thrill. It’s hard to express the joy of seeing Obama sworn in and hearing his stirring address while surrounded by a million other cold but happy people. I think many of us could especially relate to his closing words:

    “With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”

    Now that was heart-warming.

    When the inauguration was over, we walked up 18th street with a hundred thousand other people, slipped over to 16th at K and took the 54 bus home.

  • We went down to the parade route 9:30ish got through the security checkpoint (which was entirely empty) and got our front row seats/curb across from the FBI building. Apparently the bleacher section we wandered to was open to the public so that was an added bonus. Hung around in the cold for a long while, but everyone was in good spirits dancing around to the music (even if it was the same 10 songs over and over). The swearing in ceremony was broadcast over the loud speakers and we were front and center when the Obamas and the Bidens decided to get out and walk during the parade. It was pretty amazing. We had no problems getting into or out of the parade route just a long walk back up 18th to the house. All in all…cold but great.

  • Hopped on the 42 around 7 a.m. and met friends downtown who were walking from Dupont. I had pointed out to them that it would be best to skirt around the parade route so we walked down 19th to the Mall with no problem, walked past the Washington monument and ended up in front of a jumbotron in front of the Natural History museum (all of my pictures have tree branches obscuring the screen, oh well). Since we were on the edge of the crowd we were basically forced to move after Obama’s speech or be continually bumped into by the masses leaving from the center — I didn’t get to hear much of the poem or closing benediction. Afterwards they made us walk all the way over to 23rd St NW, and we eventually made it up to Dupont to have lunch and watch the parade on TV. I think I’m still defrosting from the whole experience.

    My favorite part was something Obama said in his speech about international relations and the Muslim world: “To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy… we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” Beautiful. And of course, it was cathartic to watch Bush’s helicopter take him back to Texas WHERE HE BELONGS.

  • I live over in Shaw. For one thing, there were National Guard troops stationed all over the neighborhood, which I thought was odd considering we don’t live THAT close to downtown. I could maybe for the balls at the Convention Center, but even then that was at 7th and M and I couldn’t really see why the guardsmen needed to be as far north as R St. Of course, not that I’m complaining that there was police personnel on foot patrol, wouldn’t mind that extending to non-Inauguration Weekend times as well.

    Also, did anyone else notice the police seemed slightly clueless? I asked the guardsmen what were the restrictions in the area and they seemed completely lost. They also seemed to be doing most of the patroling at the 7-11 and Dunkin’ Donuts…

    Anyway, my roommate and a couple of her friends didn’t have tickets and left our place at 4 am to walk down to the Mall. Myself and my friend from out of town who came into town for Inauguration Weekend chose not to go after doing the trek for the concert. We just didn’t have that in us again.

    I wake up around 8:30 or 9 to hear my roommate and her friends in our living room. Turns out, they had caught a bus down there and said it was just chaotic. There really wasn’t very clear direction of where to go. They said they got in a line and waited for 2 hours only to be todl that it was a line for the parade, not the swearing in. They then went to another line and were told that people were only going to be let in 50 people at time every 30 minutes when there were thousands of people waiting. They gave up and caught the Metro back to Shaw without any problems.

    So like 5 of us just stayed at my house and watched it on TV, I cooked a big lunch for everyone and it was really nice, actually.

  • I watched at home. I had followed the election so closely that the inauguration was like the ending of a great game. His eight years in office are going to be quite interesting for me. As a black man, I am curious to see how he straddles the line in dealing with the issues that black America will try and force him to confront. I predict that in the eyes of much of black America, his success will be viewed as a failure/success based on the near impossible task of improving the lot of blacks in the inner cities.

  • Not sure why, but I feel a bit depressed today. I wasn’t a fan of Bush (I’m pretty apolitical), but something about the frenzy, the governmental change, and the whole experience makes me sad. Odd, but true. Others?

  • I took the 63 bus down from Sherman Circle to 12th and K at 8:30 … and there were only four others on the bus. I wandered south, then west, then north around the White House, and south again on 18th. Saw the infamous “groove” sign at Constitution Hall, took many pics of the masses filling the streets, and entered the Mall without trouble in front of the OAS. Wandered around up to the Washington Monument, took some more crowd photos, and headed back to the WWII memorial, as the elevation and wind of the WM made it about 15 degrees colder. Found my friends at the WWII memorial, and watched with good views of two jumbotrons. We waited till the end, listening to the Anthem, poem and Lowery’s awesome benediction. Headed north, got a bite to eat at the GWU cafeteria, a few drinks with other friends at Bravo Bravo, and then took the 63 home (with only one other rider). Tiring and cold, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

  • Did anyone else find their Toasty-Toes didn’t work at ALL? I was there with a crew of 8 or so, and they didn’t work for ANY of us.

  • Me and Lil’ Gal wandered down 18th Street to The Mall with some friends at about 9:30am. We ended up with thousands of brand new friends at the north side of Mr. Washington’s Monument.

    As a fellow Texan I thought it was real nice how everyone saluted President Bush by singing him songs and saying “Boooooooooosh” really loud. I’m not sure y’all are pronouncing Mr. Cheney’s name right though. I’m prudy sure his middle name ain’t “Douche” either.

    All and all it was somethin’ else to see Mr. Obama send Mr. Bush off to clear some brush back home. I was happy to see that Mr. Obama did what he always does, made a little, itty bitty, stammer. He does it in every speech. It makes me really like the guy, against all my better judgement to be suspicious of politicians and double-dern suspicious of lofty-speakin’ pols. Every time Obama makes a little boo boo that makes him all the more human to me. A climber? To be sure, but look at what he’s climbed up to — now standing in stark contrast to the privileged bumbler he proceeds. Obama is just the kind of guy that wouldn’t want to have a beer with me, and I like that just fine. I don’t want my president to be my buddy, I want my president to be a leader. Drinking buddies borrow all your money, wreck your car, and start expensive and pointless foreign wars. Lil’ Gal thought I might have shed a tear, but it was only the cool wind of change in my squinties that caused the moisture.

    I thought the crowds of yankees to be prudy well behaved, even when those of us from the Monument were herded into a pen near 17th Street and Constitution that had no exit. I felt a bit like a heifer whot has been chased into a corner by cowboys. We didn’t move for a while and were trapped next to a godbotherer with a megaphone. Sadly, he was a rather uninspired Jesus Crispy, instead of tellin’ us of the evils of homo sex and killin’ lil’ babies, he talked a lot about Adam and Eve. We took to calling our area “The Jesus Pen”, but we were more liketa be bored to death then entertained with some good ol’ fashioned brimstone. Soon we were movin’ and we made it to 20th, up to K, on the 42 to Mt. P, and home in time to see the parade.

  • I watched from Solly’s. I had PBR but they were out of food, meaning NO TOTS! it’s ok, it was still awesome, everyone was in great spirits.

  • I was a red hat wearing volunteer. I left my house at 4:30 in the morning, got onto the Columbia Heights metro, which was already filling up, and walked to the Lincoln Memorial at 5 A.M. for my meeting. I knew I was going to be stationed at 17th and Constitution, to greet people and welcome them to the National Mall. After seeing thousands of people move by me in hopes of catching a glimpse of the ceremony on a jumbotron, I made my way to the Monument, where I watched the swearing in on a jumbotron.

    It was an excellent experience. Sure the crowd control, and exit up 18th was a bit chaotic, but I am so happy to have been a part of this historic event. I didn’t get any Toasty-toes, but I did get a free bag of Honey-Mustard pretzels! And I greeted tons of people from other parts of the country, who were in such good spirits and happy to be in DC!

  • Got dropped off at Shaw around 8:00 and walked to the blue ticket area via the tunnel–no problems at all. But, similar to what has been described with the purple tickets, thousands of us blue ticket people didn’t get in either! We waited and waited and like others have said, there was absolutely no one around for crowd control, no idea where to line up, etc. It was just this huge mass of people with tickets trying not to give up hope of getting in. It was insanely disappointing because we didn’t get to see anything as there were no jumbotrons or microphones nearby. Ended up going back to my office by metro center afterwards and downloading the speech on my computer. I do have to say that at least people’s spirits were high the whole time we were waiting and it was cool to experience some of the insanity. Just wish I got to see the big moment! I still don’t understand how this happened to so many ticket holders. The blue area looked full, too, and there were definitely several thousand of us who didn’t get in. How did they not plan for this better?? So many people spent so much time, energy and $$ to get here and were worse off than sitting at home and watching it.

  • I was a Purple ticket holder, and was standing on first street between C and D for 4 hours, directly in front of where the Purple Gate should have been opened (at first, C, and Louisiana) and the mass never moved until the end, when it turned out we were penned in by the folks coming from the tunnel on the right, a large dump truck on the left (wasn’t there when we got in line), and the closed gates ahead. Never got in, but cried a lot and tried to clean up all the dirty garbage (coffee cups, toe warmer wrappers, and expresses) that covered the street.

    Listened to the swearing in ceremony on a car stereo, then drank margaritas at El Rinconcito’s on M and 11th. They were playing Faux News, so we saw many shots of Bush flying away, but at least it was in English. Then went home and napped with the parade on. It was a mess, and i’m still really sad about it. At least Obama is officially President!

  • emma.d – My Toasty-Toes didn’t work at ALL either! Strange enough, the hand warmers worked swimmingly well… so well in fact that they got too hot!

  • I wonder if there’s not enough oxygen or air or whatever in shoes to activate the Toasty-toes?

    I had a bad time, unfortunately. Perhaps not as bad as the purple ticket holders — that sounded like a giant mess. I think my first wrong choice was to go for the parade and not the inauguration, because my college’s marching band was in the parade. I think people who went to the inauguration had a much more positive experience overall.

    I was up around 5:30-ish and left my house around 6:30-ish and rode my bike downtown. That all went well, I did the bike valet thing.

    I got a security at E, just south of 10th, and decided to join it. That was when things got awful. The line was thick, like multiple people wide, and there was no attempt to form any kind of line structure at all. There were just people pressed in as hard as they could…it was to the point where I could barely move my arms, I couldn’t turn my head, I couldn’t do anything but just stand in that line and deal with people pressing in on me from all sides. It was really cold, my feet were starting to freeze, and after two hours, I think i had moved maybe 20 feet. There was no sign that I could get close to the gate at all, so I just bailed. I was so upset by that point. It turns out that what they were doing was letting in groups of maybe 50 people at a time, screening them all, then letting in another 50 people, screening them all, etc. So there was no kind of continuous movement. Plus, people were “joining” (read: cutting) in the line at the sides, so we were all getting shoved more and the “line” was super-wide. Horrible.

    Part of the time I was in the line I had managed to listen to a little bit of my radio, and there was a reporter who said he was at 13th Street and that the line was long but moving smoothly. So, since I would have had to walk back west to get to my bike anyway, I headed in that direction. Totally different situation. The volunteers were keeping the lines single file, they were continuously moving, I got frisked and was into the secure area in 20 minutes, if that.

    This was sometime between 10 and 11 (I bailed out of the first line at 10.) So I was there with a bunch of people at 15th and Pennsy through the inauguration, but there were no jumbotrons near us. They were playing music instead. They piped the NPR feed to us when the ceremony started, so that was nice and moving and all, but they didn’t do the whole thing, so I didn’t hear the poem or Lowery’s prayer. Afterwards, most people didn’t leave because no one wanted to give up their parade viewing spot. I had to walk away, though — I couldn’t imagine standing up for another what I thought would be two hours. I cannot even impress upon people who weren’t there how cold and miserable it was at this point.

    Then the parade finally started, and we were told it was going to be 2.5 hours. I knew then that I couldn’t stay until 6:30 — no way. By the time Barack’s limousine got to my location, it was well after 4:30. He wasn’t walking near us, he just drove by. I got pictures of…the chain link fence I was behind, because I had given up my space and people weren’t about to let me go back in. Then I had to book it out of there because the bike valet service was closing at 5. So I saw no Barack (unless a glimpse of him behind a car window counts) and I saw none of my college’s marching band. Though if I had known that they were #4 in the parade lineup, maybe I would have tried…but it would have been tough to do with the bike valet deadline.

    One nice thing is that as I rode toward home, I saw a 54 bus was coming. Thank god I know how to operate those bus bike racks because I had my bike up there so fast…I knew I would have had a hell of a time biking all the way uphill back to Petworth. And of course, I left my bus farecard in my bike trunk. But the bus driver said don’t worry about it. God bless him. That was the best thing that happened to me yesterday.

    I spent most of the rest of the day under my electric blanket, with it turned up to high.

  • I had been adamant about not even thinking of attending, but at 9:30 am on Sunday dear friends of mine called to ask if they could stay – they’d decided to blow off work and drive down from Ottawa. I said “Absolutely!” and ran to the store for chili fixins’ and beer for their arrival which I estimated would be close to 11pm that night. The (Un)Safeway was enforcing 1 hour parking in their lot, and there were RVs scattered throughout the neighborhood. When my friends got in, we stayed up drinking the brown liquors until far too late, but nevertheless made it out of the house by 9:30, to make our way down to the Mall. We took our time, stopping for coffee, to look at the variety of Obama goods on offer near Eastern Market (a poster with Bob Marley, Tupac, MLK, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and other leaders were in cowboy garb on horseback, being led by Barack and Michelle Obama, also in cowboy gear and on horseback and Obama lightswitch plates were some of the highlights). We got to the Washington Monument with plenty of time to spare, then decided to move back closer to the WWII Memorial, because we were able to get a front row view of the screens there.

    After it was over, we took a seat and people watched for a bit before trying to make our way over to the Museum of Natural History where my friend (a Secret Service agent in from his regular post in San Francisco) was posted and waiting for us. Unfortunately that was the only glitch in the day – we couldn’t get back East on the North side of the Mall, so we abandoned that idea and headed up VA Ave. SW back to the Hill and spent the rest of the afternoon drinking and playing pool in the Lil Pub. We got back to my place in time to stand out front with some High Lifes and watch the Presidential motorcade drive past on its way to the Armory.

    My favorite part was everyone bitching about how cold it was (myself included) and the pair of Ottawans I had in tow laughing at them. (They’ve been having highs in the single digits, and it’d recently gotten down to -35 – they thought it was downright balmy here.)

  • Er, change Sunday to Monday in the first sentence, above. Between not having a job and the 4 day weekend, my days are all kinds of screwed up.

  • 7 of us left Columbia Heights at 7:30, cut down 18th street and then around to the west of the Washington Monument, were on the mall by 9:30 somewhere between 12th and 14th. Great view on the jumbo tron, and cold, but tons of fun.

    We split up on the way back – 2 of us got caught in the river of people on 18th street, and it took until 4pm to get home. 2 others avoided 18th and took 21st, and spent the afternoon waiting at Shwarma King until caught up with them (since we had the keys!).

    All in all, great time. Could have watched it on TV, but it was an incredible experience to be down there in person.

  • Obama came to Coolidge HS on Monday, which is near my house, and his motorcade drove down my street. So, I did not need to come to Obama, Obama came to me! Tuesday I watched it all from home and then took the dog to Rock Creek Park, which we had all to ourselves.

    My only disappointment was Coolidge and the adjoining Whittier Elementary didn’t clean up their gang graffiti prior to Obama arriving. How embarrassing. I stopped calling for graffiti clean up on the schools several months ago and was wondering if anything would enable DCPS to request graffiti clean up on their own. I guess not! How do you keep a straight face giving a speech on hope and change in the midst of such crapulence? Shame!!!!!

  • Pennywise,

    Ask yourself this, were the principals and teachers members of gangs in their youth that were associated with the modern graffiti you see. The answer you get may very well shock you!

    In 2007 a teacher I spoke to told me that she couldn’t in good faith call the police on drug dealers on school grounds because when she was a teenager she did her fair share of LOVE BOAT!

    (aka PCP)

    They may not clean up their schools because they may not see drug gangs as a negative thing. I’m being 100% serious here and not at all joking.

  • After travelling from Iowa by bus for 19 hours, catching Metro at Gaithersburg and somehow arriving near the Mall close to the Washington Monument, we were met by a wonderful red hatted volunteer who strongly recommended viewing the Inauguration on the Jumbotron’s behind the monument. When we arrived at our chosen location we had front row seating and lots of room to spread. Let me add that my group included Grandma, Mom and aunt Kim and ten grandkids between 12 and 18. Oh, two ladies from the bus, 89 and 84 years old. What a proud and historical day and we were thrilled with viewing it with my grandchildren who had all worked so hard first in the Iowa Caucus and then the Nov election. Our problems also started with exit – we missed the direction from atop the porto – pottie and began our five hour exodus in the streets of Washington. Would you believe we finally found shelter at Egg…… in Silver Springs Md? While adults were a bit disappointed in missing museums and monuments, our young people were thrilled with the day! By the way, our apologies to the large business or club somewhere off 17th St. We followed the crowd into what turned into your backyard and the only exit was through your hedges. I hope my walker didn’t create too much damage and the two ladies and the kids thought it was awesome!

    Tks to those who blogged here – found pictures of “our spot” by Washington Monument, found out numbers of now friends we partied with, how many folks joined us on our pilgrimage up and down 17th and 18th streets – everything except “how cold was it”/ Hats off to the folksin the crowd, the Metro riders and workers, and the Police officers in Silver Springs (don’t even ask). You were all part of a day we’ll never forget!

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