WASHINGTON (WWLP) — A Presidential Inauguration ceremony only happens every four years, and it's an experience to behold. The people of our country celebrate the handover of power to the President in such a public way, and hundreds of thousands, and sometimes even millions, join in on the National Mall to be witness to history.
Though it is a truly exciting exercise of our democracy, going to an Inauguration is not really for everyone.
If you plan on making the trip down to D.C. for the next inauguration in January of 2017, there are a few things you should know:
1. You will wait in line a very long time
Just because you have a ticket to the Inauguration, doesn't mean you can just walk right in. Security is extremely tight, and you may have to wait an hour or more just to get through it, and arrive at the location where you will be standing.
2. Be prepared to stand
Speaking of standing, an Inauguration is not the kind of event you want to be going to if you cannot be on your feet for extended periods of time. Because the crowds are so large, don't even bother trying to bring a chair- you will either have no place to sit, or no place to see over the heads of the people in front of you. Unless you're a VIP with tickets to the stands built on the Capitol steps, you will be standing for a number of hours. Even so, you will have to stand for quite a while to get a place in the Inaugural Parade.
3. Once the parade starts, you don't have to wait long for the President
You may have to wait quite a while for the Inaugural Parade to actually begin (it's a couple hours after the Inauguration ceremony due to set-up and a luncheon the President enjoys with other political dignitaries). But once the parade actually starts, the President is not that far from the beginning of the marchers. It's not like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade where you wait for Santa Claus at the very end; many people leave the parade after seeing the President and Vice President go by early in the march.
4. The crowds are partisan
The crowds at a presidential inauguration are largely made up of people who supported that candidate's path to the White House. As such, they are very excited to see people who support their side, and not excited to see political adversaries. For example, during President Obama's second inauguration, the crowd let out big cheers for Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Just as loud, though, were the jeers for House Speaker John Boehner and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich when they were introduced. Depending on who wins the next election cycle, your political preferences may dictate whether or not you may want to go.
5. There is NO re-entry
Like some bars shortly before closing time, once you're out- you're out. If you leave the viewing area to warm up in a public building or go to the bathroom, you cannot get back in. Make sure you dress for the cold, and go to the bathroom before you wait in line for security to minimize visits to the port-a-potties on the Mall.
6. The City definitely knows how to handle this event
Washington knows politics, and hosting Inaugurations every four years has given them the know-how to manage the crowds, close the appropriate areas of the city, and allow people to move freely. The Metro subway system runs until 4:00 A.M. on the days surrounding the Inauguration, and believe it or not, there is room to ride. Just be sure to buy your pass the day before; otherwise you're waiting in long lines at ticket machines, surrounded by people who don't know how to use them.
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