Barak Obama's first Inaugural attracted a crowd of between 1 and 1.8 million people, depending on which estimates you believe. And it was one of the coldest days in Washington's history. As a volunteer along the parade route, they issued my battery operated glove and boot inserts to deter frostbite, and there were warming stations on each block along the parade route.
For President-elect Trump, the long range weather forecast looks a lot kinder, with temperatures expected to be in the high 50's. And no matter how many people show up for his swearing-in and parade, there will be some major traffic challenges.
If you plan to look at houses, shop or walk your dog in the downtown area, keep in mind that there will be more road closures than they have for the Marine Corps Marathon! And above is a helpful map from the Secret Service showing what streets will be closed off or restricted for the occasion. And here is their complete list of street closures between the 18th and the 21st of January.
But if you are planning to be anyplace near the Capitol, the White House or the parade route on January 20th, my strong recommendation is that you use Metro - or walk. And here are some more tips if you plan to attend:
- Wear very comfortable shoes. If they're really ugly, it's OK. Nobody will be looking at your feet. And you will be doing a whole lot of walking - maybe even running! Thick socks and Dr. Sholls are recommended.
- Dress warmly for whatever the weather. I'd suggest layers and a big shoulder bag to stuff them into, except that you might have issues with security.
- Bring gloves even if it is in the 50's. The weather can turn nippy quickly.
- Have your phone fully charged in case you are separated from the people you came with.
- Turn off the sound on all electronics during any musical performances, poetry reading, swearing in and the Inaugural Address. At Clinton's first inaugural, some idiot was negotiating stock trades on his constantly ringing cell phone and someone almost grabbed it out of his hand.
- Etiquette does permit texting and checking your email as long as the sound is off, but it's not encouraged.
- To get anywhere close to the Capitol or the parade route, expect to go through heavy security, and leave any jewelry or other accessories that could set off the metal detectors at home.
- If you are planning to participate, whether it's to celebrate or to protest our new leader, just remember that in the United States, we are famous for our peaceful transfers of power. Behave yourself!
Me? I'm going to watch the ceremonies in the comfort of my home on my big screen TV with some friends, some bubbly and some pate and brie on a baguette!