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Enjoy the Inauguration! Important Tips and Useful Information


Are you planning to attend the inaugural festivities? Witnessing a Presidential Inauguration is one of the great advantages of going to college in the nation’s capital!  Don’t miss the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. Here are some helpful tips and important information to make your inaugural experience a positive one!

Washington, D.C., is expecting more than 2 million people to attend the inaugural events January 18 to 21 – the largest gathering ever in the nation’s capital. Information is changing constantly about road closures, Metro, security checks, etc.  Check the links on the right for up-to-date information.  Also, purchase a Washington Post on January 18, 19 or 20 – it will be loaded with important and useful information you can carry with you.

Throughout the weekend, here are some important tips:  Dress warmly, wear comfortable shoes, be prepared to walk long distances, be prepared to stand in place for 4 hours waiting for the ceremony or parade to begin, allot extra time to get anywhere, be patient, be prepared for large crowds, be sure you eat and hydrate yourself during the day, be kind to visitors to our nation’s capital, and be safe and always aware of your surroundings.

On this page, you will find information about Inauguration Day on Tuesday, January 20.

Inauguration Day, Tuesday, January 20

Metro will open at 4:00 a.m. (and it will close at 2:00 a.m.) Trinity will begin running the shuttle at 4:00 a.m. Metro is expecting extremely large crowds. Buy your farecard BEFORE January 20.  If you are traveling within a 2 mile radius of the U.S. Capital (and this includes Trinity and the Brookland Metro Station) Metro recommends that you walk to the events downtown. You can also take the bus. For example, the 80 bus stops across the street from Trinity and on Inauguration Day will go to Union Station; from there you can walk to inaugural events. Click here for more information about the inauguration on Metro’s web site.

Weather: Inauguration day is historically cold.  The average temperature at noon is 37 degrees and this year forecasters are predicting a high of 25 to 35 degrees.  Dress warmly. Consider bringing a blanket to the Inaugural events.

The Inaugural Ceremony

The Inaugural Swearing-in Ceremony takes place on the West steps of the U.S. Capitol. The music begins at 9:45 a.m.; the Swearing-in Ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the oath of office for the President will be administered at noon, followed by President Obama’s inaugural address.

If You Do Not Have Tickets to the Ceremony

If you do not have tickets to the Inaugural ceremony, you can still go!  For the first time ever, the length of the National Mall will be open to those wishing to attend the swearing-in ceremony. The National Mall will be open from 4th Street to the Lincoln Memorial (at 23rd Street), with 16 Jumbotrons broadcasting the ceremony.

Security/What Not to Bring:  There will not be any security checkpoints to gain access to the open area of the Mall. However, you can expect random security checks like those on the Metro. As of January 16, officials have said that you can bring folding lawn chairs, coolers, food and strollers. Explosives and weapons are strictly prohibited. Please note that this information is subject to change. Check web sites for updated information.  The best advice: If you don’t need it, don’t bring it!

If You Have Tickets to the Ceremony

If you have tickets you will need to pick up your tickets in advance – before January 20. (If you have not been selected to receive a ticket, you are not going to be able to secure one. They are being distributed by Members of Congress.)

Once you receive your tickets, make careful note of the location of your ticket and the gate directions printed on it.  Bring your ticket with you or you will not be admitted to the ticketed area. On Inauguration Day, gates will be open at 8:00 a.m.  Everyone is encouraged to arrive by 9:00 a.m. to get through security. Once you are in your designated area, there are no assigned places – first come, first served per section.  The pre-ceremony program, featuring the San Francisco Boys and Girls Chorus, will begin at approximately 9:45 a.m.  The Swearing-in Ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the oath of office for the President will be administered at noon.

Weather and Crowds: The day is historically cold and wet.  The average temperature at noon is 37 degrees.  This year the weather forecast is no precipitation with a high of 25 to 35 degrees. You may wish to bring a blanket with you to the ceremony.  The crowds will be very large and guests will likely be outside for a minimum of four hours.  For this reason, and because strollers are not permitted, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies strongly discourages small children or those not capable of standing for that period of time from attending.

Security: As you enter the Capitol Grounds, you will be required to go through a vigorous security screening. Please be aware that the following items are not permitted within the boundaries of the Inaugural Swearing-in Ceremony that day:  Firearms and ammunition (real or simulated); explosives of any kind; knives, blades, or sharp objects; mace or pepper spray; sticks or poles; pocket or hand tools; suitcases; thermoses; coolers; strollers or baby back packs; umbrellas; laser pointers; packages; backpacks; large bags-including duffel bags and camera bags – tripods; signs; posters; animals (other than service animals); any beverages.

Presidential Inauguration Parade

The Presidential Inauguration Parade begins at 2:30 p.m. The parade route is along Pennsylvania Avenue from 3rd Street to 17th Street. Bleacher tickets are sold out. You do not need a ticket to access the viewing areas; however, there is a limited number of standing spaces available. Gates to the viewing areas will open at 7:00 a.m. and the viewing areas are expected to be filled up by 10:00 a.m.

Security:  All parade and event attendees will be subject to a thorough security screening. Allow for additional time to go through the security screening and be aware of prohibited items. As of January 16, snack-sized food and water bottles will be permitted. Blankets are also permitted.

Enjoy the festivities!  Yes, there are rules and there will be crowds, but this is an historic moment!  Enjoy the Inauguration!

Presidential Inaugural Committee

Washington Post Inauguration Central

Metro: Inaugural Information

Experience DC: Presidential Inauguration

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For more information contact Ann Pauley, Media Relations Trinity, 125 Michigan Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20017, (202) 884-9725.