Thursday, January 22, 2009


Please enjoy this summary of our inauguration experience...

It was a pretty exciting and frustrating day for us. We got up at 7am and KT, Jaya, Molly (Jaya's friend) James (an Olney intern) and I piled into the Echo and headed downtown.

Jaya, Kate, Molly and James...note the soon to be ill-fated coffee...

We got as far as Florida and Georgia and had to park the car because of National Guard troops blocking 7th.

National Guard @ 7th and Rhode Island Ave.

It was cold at 8:30 AM that morning:

Nineteen Degrees in Chinatown, 8:30am

We walked the rest of the way to the 7th street entry point (the intersection that Woolly Mammoth Theater and the Bead Museum are at) and hit a large crush of people trying to get into the gate.

This is 7th St looking North. The photo was taken by a guy on a light pole I handed my camera to

We stayed there, squished together in an "almost deadly crushing situation"for about an hour when we were told that the generator that powers the 4(!) metal detectors was broken and that they weren't letting anyone in.

This is 7th street looking south at the gate and the generator that was supposedly broken...just barely visible in this photo are the policemen in the windows of the second floor of the building with the blue awnings. They had Krispy Kreme donuts and were apathetically looking down at the situation below. 9:15am

Since that situation was about to become ugly, we backed out and went to 10th and E St. and got into the same sort of crush.

10th and E St. Looking North. 9:30am

We got to 10 & E at 9:30...we didn't get through the "line" until 2:30 (!!!!)...there wasn't a single moment where I had enough personal space to lift my arms above my head (but the body heat was keeping us warm) and there was some pushing that had me scared for a moment or two...(one of the craziest things about this was that there were children and infants in the crush!)

10th and E St. Looking South towards the gate that we would pass through, over the course of the next five hours.

We heard the inauguration speech from Jaya's cell phone because there were no speakers set up to broadcast anything.

Jaya's cell phone, showing the inaugural speech...complete with faint, delayed and sporadic audio...(don't get me wrong, this is a friggin' miracle of modern science and technology...and makes me proud to be alive at this moment in history...) (shortly after noon)

Jared being optimistic about the future, and genuinely proud to be an American...

In fact, information was so scarce, that we had people standing on barricades trying to relay what was happening at the front of the line to the thousands crowded all the way up to F St, because the policeman who (rarely) came out with a bullhorn would only admonish us "not to push" (and he couldn't even be heard anyway) It seems that they were only letting 20 people in every five or ten do the math...

Spirits still run high in the crowd

After being separated in the crowd a few times, we surged into the single door that got us into the tent with the x-ray machines. We turned on our electronic devices to prove that they weren't bombs (I guess) and we were finally in! (the first thing Molly did was pee, because she had been holding her 8:30 coffee for six hours!...the rest of us had to go too...but we were too resolved to get into the bleachers before they closed them when the parade started)

Our tickets for the bleachers for the parade said "White-B" as our section. and they also said to use the 10th and E entrance. But when we got in, we couldn't find the "White B" section, and every person that we asked (mostly police and the volunteers with the red hats) either didn't know, or sent us in the opposite direction. So eventually we talked out way into the "Grey-A" bleachers.

"I know my ticket says that I am in the wrong bleachers, but I'm just too sexy to be denied..."

The view of Pennsylvania Ave. from our adopted section of bleachers (3:00pm)

The parade started late because of the Kennedy situation, and it went by slowly once it started:

The Motorcycle color guard...

...The Drum and Fife Corps (?)

Jared Loves his now frozen wife...

Finally, at long last, we got to see Obama walking outside his car, and I got some blurry photos.

Believe it or not, this is the best photo I got of the new president and his wife...

This photo wins for "most in focus"

but it was so cold that we left after Biden went did most of the crowd.

Joe and Jill...

But when we tried to exit, there was another crush to get out at the same entrance!

Eventually we got out of the secure zone, and made our way back to our car, all the while being diverted away from the convention center (our car was on the other side of it) taking us about 10 blocks out of our way...

Ive always wanted to take a picture of this sign, but never had an occasion until today! (5:30pm)

We went to the looking glass lounge to eat (because we hadn't eaten a "proper" meal since 7am) and had some of the worst service ever. When we got home, we decided that we were so tuckered out that the prospect of going to the "art of change ball" (to which we had tickets)
at the warehouse (inside the closed off street zone that we had crossed a few hours before) was just not in the cards for us.

Partygoers danced at the Art of Change Artists Ball at Warehouse Theater. (photo by Valerie Paschall) NOTE Jared's scenery in the background!

so we laid in bed for about 10 minutes before we were asleep with thoughts of Obama dancing in our heads...

However, aside for some ugly moments in the crowd (most of which are better suited for the retelling in person) everyone was pleasant, excited and patient. The one thing I will remember about this historical moment was that I have rarely been as close to my fellow Americans as I was while being crushed in the line...


Sara Habich said...

Nice! Like the random inclusion of the tiki seafood sign too.

Raj said...

I liked it very much. May be reword some of the comments to be PC.

Jared said...

I dont understand which comments you think are not "PC"? (and really, isn't Political Correctness soooo 1990's mind control)