Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Inauguration Preparations Underway

Swearing in platform under construction on the west front of the Capitol.
Happy New Year! I hope 2013 has been as good to you so far as it has been to me. Here's to a safe, productive, and fruitful year.

The 2013 Presidential Inauguration on January 21 will be the nation's 57th. This will be my third since living in the District. Regardless of party, I really enjoy the spectacle associated with Inauguration and always plan to witness some of it in person, if at all possible. How many Americans get to see the President (almost) up close and personal? Not as many as you think. Luckily, I have been able to personally meet President Obama and President Bush 43.

Yes, I've had my cynical rants about inauguration rentals, and that's fun. But all joking aside, every four years hundreds of thousands of people travel to the District to be a tiny part of American history. Media outlets are predicting smaller numbers than 2009, but any one-time event that attracts this many visitors will have an impact on those who live here full time. 

(The last thing I'll say about inauguration rentals is that there are plenty of hotels in DC with rooms available. So, if you're charging four figures for an air mattress and a shared bathroom, you're already being underbid by people who do this for a living.)

The 21st will feature of just a few official events, but they'll make up most of the day: the ceremonial swearing in at the Capitol, the inaugural parade, and the official Inaugural Balls (there appear to be just two this year).

Preparations are well underway. The Capitol platform for the ceremonial swearing-in is being constructed. It's quite large at 10,000 square foot and will hold 1,600 people on the day of inauguration.

Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 4th and 15th Streets is being prepped for the parade including re-striping and bleacher seating.

At least one ball location is public at this point (titled The Inaugural Ball) and it is being held at the Walter  E. Washington Convention Center. The Commander-in-Chief's Ball is apparently happening, but I haven't seen a location mentioned as of today will also be held at the Convention Center. 

Major cell phone companies have added temporary cell phone towers to handle any spike in data usage. 2009 (10 generations ago in smartphone years) saw jammed cell signals all over the Mall for much of the day. 

Metro has created a special page detailing their plans for the day. Most importantly, Metro Rail will open at 4:00AM Monday and run until 2:00AM Tuesday morning. Rush hour service (and fares) are planned from opening until 9:00PM. Mt. Vernon Square, Smithsonian and McPherson Square Stations will be closed on the 21st.

These are just a few of the many changes by federal and local agencies. And oh yeah, NO PURPLE TUNNEL OF DOOM. So, there's that.

The lead up does feel a bit muted, compared to 2009. I can't say how this stacks up to 2005 since I wasn't around for Inauguration 2001, but I suppose it is similar, because an incumbent prevailed each time. Still need to host events for supporters and donors (and yes, the general public!), but naturally the excitement has leveled relative to that of an election of a new President.

More info on Inauguration 2013 as the big day approaches.

Parade seating at Penn and 7th NW.
Temp cell towers at 3rd and Constitution NW.