If you’re one of the 1 to 4 million people expected at the National Mall tomorrow morning, bright and early, to watch the historic presidential inauguration that puts W. Bush’s second inauguration to shame (100,000 people, mostly protestors), you’ve now also realized that these are also some historically low temperatures experienced in the DC area. While I’m hardly an expert on attending presidential inaugurations, particularly ones involving Barack Obama, I and some friends did a test-run at the HBO inauguration concert yesterday and plotted our strategy for tomorrow’s main event. Even the Jumbo-trons became mobbed as soon as the concert started yesterday. While I won’t give away our entire strategy, I will offer some survival tips to watching Obama’s swear-in.
1. The Obama-Scope.
We bought these for $20 and they are a “limited edition” souvenir. Like a submarine, we can peer over the sea of people for a glimpse of the capitol and the dots that represent Obama and John Roberts. Yesterday it allowed us to scope out the entrance line for the inauguration concert above all the tall heads; we got glimpses of the Lincoln Memorial and attracted lots of photos and interviews with student reporters who were fascinated by the Obama-Scope.
2. Food. I get hungry after standing around for several hours in the cold, so we’re making turkey sandwiches with swiss, arugula and tomatoes and stuffing them into our jacket pockets, since security is only permitting a bag of 8″x6″x4″.
Despite the availability of 5,000 porto-potties, I’m going to avoid drinking too much liquid during this time. There is something about having to wrestle with many layers of clothing in a porto-potty that I would like to skip. There is an impressive number of them lined up like walls along the perimeter of the Mall (see photo below).
3. Basic cold-weather first-aid: kleenex, chapstick, face/ hand cream so my skin doesn’t peel off. Extra kleenex for visiting friend who believes she will cry.
4. Clothing: Dress as if you’re headed for the slopes. Short of wearing my goggles and snowpants, I’ll be bundled in silk thermals, sweaters, puffy jacket, face wrapped like a mummy and looking like the Abominal Snowman.
5. Path. Map out your course ahead of time and anticipate it will be even worse than you think it will be. We have picked out the Jumbo-tron whose speakers match the mouthing of the people talking, since we noticed several of these Jumbo-trons had a 10-second delay which sort of took away from the experience. However, I will not reveal which Jumbo-tron until after the inauguration. But, we plan to leave at 7:30am tomorrow from my place to head down to the Mall on foot. All “spectator info” is listed here.
Last suggestion: stay home, turn on your HD-TV, get some hot tea or hot chocolate and relax on your sofa with a blanket over your legs and get the best view of the inauguration. Of course, we could opt to do the same, since we made it to the front of the line to enter the inauguration concert but then security closed our entrance. This time, we firmly believe we can get into this inauguration. Yes we can.