Monday, January 19, 2009

Inauguration - Chapter 1

At the risk of being too philosophical, here's a question for you to mull over: If you go to a major happening, but only watch it on a jumbo-tron (or diamond-vision, take your choice), were you really there?

That's what happened to us Sunday, Jan 18. The kick-off event for the Inaugural celebration was the "We Are One" concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was a star-filled celebration (there were about 30 actors and singers there) that started at 2:30. People apparently lined up really early. By the time we got there early afternoon, we had no chance of being within eye shot of the Lincoln Memorial. The crowds were CRAZY ...

The Mall area around the Washington Monument was the designated overflow area, equipped with jumbo-trons and loud speakers. We made our way there and tried to stake a small piece of territory. Our main aim was trying to make sure Barb could see the screens. (At 6' 2", Dan had no problem.) People just came pouring in, until the crowd looked like this:

All told, there were an estimated 400,000 people there. And for those of us not close to the Lincoln Memorial?... We all watched the show on the jumbo-tron. So were we really there, or were we not?? Methinks we were.

I spent a lot of time just watching other people, though, and not necessarily the show. The mood was pretty festive and people really enjoyed the being there. You could really feel the sense of, well, Obama euphoria among the crowd. And when the show was over, it was an absolute mass of humanity moving away from the mall. The lines at the Metro stations were EXTREMELY long, so we found the nearest restaurant in Georgetown to go eat and wait for the crowds to diminish.

It was experience, to be sure. It will not be often that we will go looking for 400,000 people to hang out with, to crowd through the streets with, and to cram into Metro stations with, but we have to take in events while we are here.

But wait, this was just a dry run for tomorrow. How many more people will show up for the inauguration? We have heard estimates from 2-4 million. What kind of crazies would go get mixed up in a thing like that, of their own accord? Apparently, we will. We have an invitation to a parade-viewing reception at the Air Transport Association, which is on Pennsylvania Avenue along the parade route. So tonight we are trying to figure out what time to leave to get there on time.

Stay tuned for our next blog entry and we'll let you know how all works out.

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