The Inaugural Blog: Party Like It's Inaugural 2009

Updates from across D.C.

At Last ... We Get to See Michelle Obama's Gown

At his first inaugural ball appearance -- the Neighborhood Ball -- President Barack Obama emphasized the importance of neighbors and the community. He noted that his campaign was organized neighborhood by neighborhood, so this ball best captures the spirit of the campaign.

But maybe more highly anticipated by many was first lady Michelle Obama's dress -- a white, one-shouldered, floor-length gown decorated with floral details. The gown was made by New York designer Jason Wu.

Following his remarks, the Obamas danced their first inaugural dance to the Etta James classic "At Last," sung off stage by Beyonce.

Click here to watch it.

-- Matthew Stabley,
8:46 p.m.

 Easy Newseum Exit, Now It's Time to Celebrate

Leaving the Newseum was much easier than arriving. After our 6 p.m. news ended at 7 p.m., we gathered our stuff together and headed for exit. The staff of the Newseum couldn't have been more hospitable.

I raced up 6th Street to the Convention Center. I'm now at the Mid-Atlantic Ball. The room is filled with people from our area and New York, plus a few other states. There is a band playing -- not sure which.

Most people here are in good moods, and many of them look like they spent their day gussying themselves up. It is a chance to party and have some fun to cap off a truly historic day.

-- Matt Glassman, Special Projects Producer
8:46 p.m.

 Play Ball!

After a late start, the Inaugural Parade came to a dark, late finish just before 7 p.m. Now it's really time to party.

President Obama was expected to attend to some official duties before steppin' out. He and the first lady, as well as Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, are expected at 10 official balls over the course of the evening.

Sasha and Malia will be staying in. Wonder how many inauguration-goers have followed their lead and called it a night after a long day at the Mall.

-- Matthew Stabley,
7:16 p.m.

 Parade Audience Thins Out

The crowd here at Lafayette Park has really dwindled.

We have a clear view of the president and the first lady. They are both smiling and waving at all the acts and people in the parade.

Sasha and Malia are no longer on the viewing stand. They're most likely in their new home getting warm.

-- Lauren Dunn, Special Projects Producer
5:46 p.m.

 Obamas Have Best Seat in House

The Obamas have ended their stroll through the streets of D.C. (see entry below) and have settled into their spot on the reviewing stand to watch the rest of the parade.

The Obama kids seem to be having fun as the bands and floats go by.

Barack and Michelle have been engaged during the entire event, waving and cheering to all of the performers, especialy when Dunbar High School's band performed.  That should make them feel good about taking part in the event on a cold, cold day.

While the Obamas had no trouble getting to their seats, there were many others who did, even those who paid for tickets in the bleachers.  Apparently there were troubles with security lines, causing many of the bleachers to be empty as the parade started.  They're starting to fill in, but there will be plenty of unhappy paradegoers wanting answers in the days ahead.-- Jim Iovino,
5:15 p.m.

 Long Delays on Metro

If you know someone who is heading home from the Mall, watch out for several Metro stations that have been JAMMED after Obama's swearing-in and parade.

I'm at the Farragut West station, which has a line stretching about two blocks long and hundreds of people deep. A Metro spokesperson tells me they're "metering" the crowd. In other words, stopping people from going in till the platform is clear.

I'm told they've been doing the same thing at L'Enfant Plaza, Federal Center and Gallery Place.

Avoid those stations. It sounds like people were not taking Metro's advice, which was to stay away from those station after the swearing-in and parade, or else you'll be stuck there for an hour or more. It appears to be exactly what happened. -- Michael Flynn, Reporter
5:08 p.m.

 Obamas Take a Stroll, Part 2

The Obamas hit the pavement a second time during their trip from the Capitol to the reviewing stand.

It was about another five-minute walk for the Obamas.  They waved and smiled as they strutted down Pennsylvania Avenue, and thwarted Al Roker's attempt to snag the first interview of the new administration. 

Roker was standing along the parade route with microphone in hand.  He did get the Obamas' attention, but all he could get out of the new president was, "It's warm."

Fine job, Al.

Meanwhile, the Bidens also got out of their limo toward the end of their trip and waved and smiled at the cheering crowd.

Next stop for all involved:  the reviewing stand for the rest of the parade.-- Jim Iovino,
4:40 p.m.

 Obamas Take a Stroll

President Obama and his wife got out of the comfort of their heavily armed limo to take a stroll down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue.

The move was expected at some point during his ride to the presidential reviewing stand, but it wasn't expected to be this early.

Secret Service agents kept a close eye on the pair as they held hands and waved to the thousands of screaming fans lining the parade route.  Their stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue lasted about five minutes before security ushered them back into their limo.

-- Jim Iovino,

4:05 p.m.

Inaugural Parade Begins

After a luncheon that saw the collapse of Sen. Ted Kennedy, President Obama is inspecting troops before leading the Inaugural Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to his reviewing stand.

For more on Kennedy's collapse, click here.

-- Jim Iovino,
3:20 p.m.

Fans line the parade route.

   A Busy Hospital and Lost Kids

Washington Hospital Center has been busy on Inauguration Day.  The hospital accepted Sen. Ted Kennedy as a patient, but is also treating a 68-year-old woman who was injured at the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station in the morning. She is still under assessment.

The hospital is also evaluating 23 patients in the Emergency Department. Most of them, all brought from the Mall, have minor injuries. None of them have hypothermia.

The District Department of Health has established a family reunification hot line for displaced individuals. The number is 202-671-0722. 

Meanwhile, National Park Police said about 30 children were separated from their families during the inaugural celebrations.

Officials said kids lost on the south side of the National Mall were taken to a D.C. police substation at 415 4th Street in southwest Washington. The number at the station is (202) 698-0555.   Those lost on the north side of the Mall were taken to a police station at 501 New York Avenue in northwest Washington. The number at that station is (202) 727-8241.

-- Jim Iovino,
3:20 p.m.

 Latest Fun Inauguration Facts

-- This morning, Mrs. Obama gave Mrs. Bush a leather bound journal inscribed with the following quote: "There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning." -- Louis L'Amore.

The gift also included a pen engraved with today's date, for Mrs. Bush to begin her memoirs.

-- While there is no official estimate, a security official believes the crowd on the Mall was around 1.8 million.

-- People heeded the suggestion to get in place early. Riders were lined up outside some Metro stations before they opened at 4 am. By 7:30 a.m., subway system had carried nearly a quarter of a million people. And by noon, more than half a million had taken Metro (545,603).

-- Though the Park Service banned overnight camping on the Mall, the earliest arrivals bundled up in blankets and sleeping bags before dawn.

-- By around 8 a.m., the National Mall was already half full, and the checkpoints for the Mall area closest to the Capitol were shut down. People were re-directed toward the western half, from the Washington Monument toward the Lincoln Memorial.

-- Some ticket holders for the swearing-in never made it -- those in the Yellow and Purple sections. Security officials say they're not sure what happened, and those who couldn't get in were very upset. (See blog entry below for more...)

-- Some lines for people with standing-room tickets stretched for as long as 10 blocks.

--  Among the many dignitaries attending the luncheon in Statuary Hall:  US Airways pilot "Sully" Sullenberger and his wife.

-- In Midland, Texas, at the Bush "Welcome Home" event, the line to get in stretches for six or seven blocks. People are now going through security. The gates opened at about 1:55 p.m. ET. -- Staff Reports
2:40 p.m.

Prepping For The Parade

Some reports from the field before the Inaugural Parade...

I'm at 13th and Pennsylvania. Locals know it as Freedom Plaza. The parade is scheduled to start at 2:30, although the chances of it starting on time, at this point, appear to be slim to none.

Police stopped allowing people inside the parade fence long before the swearing-in started. We've talked to a number of people and families from all over the world -- literally. There was the family from Silver Spring, Md., and the man who came from Zimbabwe just for the Inauguration.

The palpable excitement that has been in the air over D.C. for the past few days has spilled into the streets of the plaza. People are cheering, dancing and waiting patiently for the 44th president to roll down Pennsylvania. We'll be here when it happens.

-- Craig Melvin, Reporter
1:45 p.m.

Bus loads of people are pulling in and the crowd is going nuts.

There's lots of singing, from "Lean On Me" to Boys II Men.-- Lauren Dunn, Special Projects Producer
1:45 p.m.

Mess on the Mall?

We received an e-mail from Lisa Alford describing her story about trying to reach her designated place along the parade route, only to be disheartened by security and eventually heading back home:

"On this historic day that ushers in a new era of hope, there were many unhappy people who never were admitted to the Inauguration.

"My sister and I, as well as thousands of others with purple standing-area tickets, left the US Capitol in disgust. We followed the rules, got up early, took the Metro and then took our place in a pseudo-line and stood for hours, never moving. Apparently with a lack of security, the purple gate was never fully opened and there was nothing short of chaos.

"A few panic attacks occurred and there was never any guidance or instruction from any authorities. We pushed through the crowd and finally got to another Metro to escape and get home only to have missed the entire ceremony. We never saw any Jumbotrons anywhere which would have made this disasterous experience somewhat worthwhile. DC and the Federal Govt. don't know how to do anything right and I will never attend another event like this in this town again! Thank God for Obama; maybe he can clear this up."

We can't say everyone experienced this at the inauguration, but we've heard similar stories about security lines not working as planned.  We'll pass along more information when we get it.

-- Jim Iovino,
1:45 p.m.

 The Inaugural Flub

The recitation of the presidential oath came in fits and starts.

The Constitution prescribes the text: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

But Chief Justice John Roberts, using no notes, flubbed his lines, and Obama knew it.

First, Obama jumped in before the "do solemnly swear" phrase, which seemed to throw the chief justice off his stride. Roberts rendered the next phrase as "that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully."

"That I will execute," Obama repeated, then paused like a school teacher prompting his student with a slight nod. Roberts took another shot at it: "The off ... faithfully the pres ... the office of President of the United States."

The oath then got more or less back on track after that. Close enough for government work.

-- 12:25 p.m.

 Previous Blog Posts:  For complete coverage of the swearing-in ceremony and the morning leading up to it, click here.

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