I was definitely going. Then I wasn’t. Then maybe I was, and maybe the whole family was coming too. Then we weren’t. Then I found out I may score two actual tickets, so maybe I will. Maybe.
But for anybody else who’s going or thinking about it, I figure it’s a good time to open a thread for tips, hints, suggestions, questions, and answers about attending the Inauguration on Monday 1/21.
I’ve only been to one Inauguration, Barack Obama’s first in 2009. It was an awesome experience in keeping with its historic nature; and it was a father-offspring adventure we both cherish. We learned a few things the hard way, and I’ll give you some of those lowlights below the orange croissant.
1. Don’t count on the Metro ticket machines to be working correctly or give change. Take smaller bills.
2. Be prepared for mobs of people. No doubt this event will be substantially less well attended than 2009, but if you’re uncomfortable in large, teeming masses of strangers, the Metro stations are not where you want to be.
3. Be patient. You will eventually get to where you want to go.
4. Dress warmly. Then add a few layers. In 2009, temps were in the low 20s. We arrived on the Mall before dawn and spent a lot of time standing around. Even though I’d dressed warmly (I’m an experienced camper), a few hours of sub-freezing temps eventually seep in. This year’s forecast is about 10 degrees warmer, but don’t underestimate your thermal needs.
5. Chemical hand and foot warmers are great. Well, I’m just guessing about the foot warmers. I gave mine away last time to somebody who was clearly uncomfortable, thinking I had several more in my bag. I didn’t. I hope he enjoyed them.
6. Mylar blankets are useless in that kind of cold.
7. YOU DON”T NEED TO GO THROUGH SECURITY. That’s only for the ticket holders. If you just want to park yourself on the Mall in front of a Jumbotron and be a part of the experience, you can take whatever you need (within reason.) Take a chair, blankets, whatever. Be comfortable, you’re going to be there a while.
8. Don’t take a camera tripod. They don’t like anything that’s long and barrel-shaped. Just sayin’.
9. Don’t count on getting a cell phone signal at critical times. A half million people are thinking the same thing.
10. The crowd leaving is worse than the crowd coming, because they’re all leaving at the same time. Stick around, savor the experience, maybe help pick up some trash.
11. You don't need to get close. It won't help anyway. Last year, I was as close as you could get without a ticket, and everyone on the stage were still ants. Worse, I was in front of the Jumbotron, so I couldn't see that either.
12. There are more portapotties than you can imagine. If you're germaphobic, take whatever you'll need re paper goods and sanitizer; but as for accessibility, we had no problem.
And to make a baker's dozen,
13. Be prepared for an experience that will make you sing along with the “Star Spangled Banner” and really mean it. You’ll feel good about your country, if only for a day.
Now I have a question for the ticket experienced. If I go, as I mentioned above, I may get tickets inside the security area. For me, all of the security measures apply. No bags, no backpacks, etc. What provisions are there inside the fence for water and/or food if I can’t bring my own? Do I just need to stuff my pockets with water bottles & granola bars?
Lastly, what about an Inauguration meetup? Are a lot of you going? Is there any interest in trying to coordinate all of us Kossacks at one location on the Mall?