Washington ready to celebrate inaugural

Washington ready to celebrate inaugural

Hundreds of thousands are expected to descend on Washington, D.C., on Monday for President Obama’s Inaugural ceremony.

Expectations for Obama’s second inauguration are markedly different than for his 2009 swearing-in. Smaller crowds and fewer parties will ring in the president’s second term, although the weather will be more temperate.


Obama will take the oath of office outside the Capitol on a brisk day, with high temperatures expected to reach 43 degrees. The forecast is partly cloudy for the morning, followed by a few showers in the afternoon.

Four years ago, 1.8 million people braved 28-degree weather and an icy wind chill to take in Obama's first inauguration.

Crowds are anticipated to be much sparser on Monday.

The Associated Press reported on Sunday that the District of Columbia’s homeland security director, Chris Geldart, said government officials expect between 500,000 and 700,000 people to attend the inauguration. That’s smaller than the original estimate of 600,000 to 800,000 attendees.

Washington is still expecting a very busy day. The city’s Metro opened at 4 a.m. on Monday and will close at 2 a.m. on Tuesday, running a rush-hour schedule until 9 p.m. on Monday.

Monday’s events, however, are strictly ceremonial. As required by the Constitution, Obama was officially sworn in on Jan. 20, which was Sunday.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who administered the oath of office for Obama on Sunday, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who swore in Vice President Biden, will repeat their duties for Monday’s ceremonial swearing-in.

The official swearing-in proceeded without a hitch in the White House’s Blue Room, unlike in 2009, when Obama and Roberts flubbed the oath of office. Instead of depending on memory, Roberts read the oath from a piece of paper this time.

“I did it,” said Obama after the swearing-in, according to a White House pool report, to which his daughter Sasha replied, “You didn't mess up.”

In addition to the public swearing-in on Monday, Obama will deliver his second Inaugural speech. He is expected to implore the nation’s political leaders to come together to help resolve America’s problems.

“He is going to say that our political system does not require us to resolve all of our differences or settle all of our disputes, but it is absolutely imperative that our leaders try and seek common ground when it can and should exist. That's going to be a very important part of the speech,” said David Plouffe, a senior adviser to President Obama, on ABC’s “This Week.”

The senior White House adviser said Obama’s speech will reflect the president’s vision for the next four years, while the State of the Union speech, scheduled for Feb. 12, will lay out a more detailed agenda.

“We have a State of the Union just in three weeks. So in the Inaugural address he is really going to lay out his vision for his second term and where he thinks the country needs to go in the years ahead, the values undergirding that, and then obviously a detailed agenda and blueprint in the State of the Union,” Plouffe said on CNN. “We view these speeches as a package.”

Obama faces a tough first year in his second term. The president will try to push through a comprehensive immigration reform package on Capitol Hill and will battle with the Republican-controlled House on the federal budget and gun control.

The mood of the country is also split. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed say things are going pretty or very badly in the country, according to a CNN/ORC International poll.

Security will be heightened throughout the capital on Inauguration Day, with 42 different local and federal agencies watching over the District. Several protests are also planned for the day throughout Washington.

With the inauguration designated as a “National Special Security Event,” the Secret Service takes the lead role in devising the security plan. Airspace will be restricted around the Capitol; more security will be visible on Washington’s waterways; and attendees can expect screenings before being admitted to the Inaugural parade or any of the Inaugural balls.

Several road closures began on Sunday, essentially sealing off downtown Washington to car traffic.

The subway system will close three stations for Inauguration Day: the Smithsonian and Archives stations, which are either on or near the National Mall, and the Mt. Vernon Square station — right below the Washington Convention Center where the Inaugural balls will be held.

Celebrations will be limited compared to 2009, with only two Inaugural balls this year instead of 10, which rang in Obama’s first term. Washington, however, has still attracted a fair number of celebrities for the festivities.

Beyoncé will sing the national anthem at the inauguration ceremony on Monday, with Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor performing earlier in the program.

On inauguration night, Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Chris Cornell, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson and Marc Anthony are among the celebrities slated to appear at the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball.

Some of those performers, and others — including John Legend, Katy Perry, Smokey Robinson, Soundgarden, Stevie Wonder and Usher — will play at the Inaugural Ball as well.

But along with the celebrations, the inauguration will have somber elements.

This year’s ceremony falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Obama will use two Bibles to take the oath of office — one used by President Abraham Lincoln for his 1861 inauguration and another owned by King.

Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, will deliver the invocation.

Jordy Yager contributed to this report.