The Inaugural Blog: Covering the Ceremony

Updates from across D.C.

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.

View From Newseum

From our vantage point atop the Newseum, we could see the Mall, the parade route and the steps of the Capitol where the ceremony was taking place. When now-Vice President Biden was sworn in, the crowd erupted ... from all over.

When now-President Barack Obama took his oath, the sound of the cheering drowned out everything ... people were waving and shouting from every direction.

Inside the Newseum, everyone was fixated on the large television. It was carrying the ceremony and speech, of course, and could be seen from every floor.

There's a sign on the Canadian Embassy, which is right next door to us, that says, "Canada salutes President Obama and Vice President Biden." -- Matt Glassman, Special Projects Producer
12:25 p.m.

Fun Facts!

Just after Joe Biden was sworn in, the Bush presidency Web platform "" disappeared, and with the click of the refresh button, the Obama presidency Web platform appeared.

While there is no official crowd estimate, a federal security official said it appears to be about 2 million, easily exceeding the previous record of 1.2 million at Lyndon Johnson's inaugural 44 years ago.

-- 12:20 p.m.

Crowd Reaction

Obama is giving his speech. Everyone is moved.

The crowd in the seats below us are chanting his name. They're so emotional.

It doesn't even matter how cold it is ... the energy in the air seems to be enough to keep everyone warm. -- Lauren Dunn, Special Projects Producer
12:15 p.m.

No. 44

It's official.  Barack Obama is officially sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

-- 12:05 p.m.

 Invocation and Song...

After The Rev. Rick Warren gave the invocation, Aretha Franklin sings a rendition of "My Country 'Tis of Thee."

Joe Biden is then sworn in as Vice President of the United States.

-- 12:00 p.m.

 President-Elect Obama Arrives

With everyone in place, including VP-elect Joe Biden, Barack Obama is introduced to a thunderous applause from the incredibly large crowd on the National Mall.

Obama greets men and women along the aisle leading down to his family and President Bush.

Thousands upon thousands of American flags wave, and chants of "O-Ba-Ma!" fill the air.

-- 11:44 a.m.

 Bush, Cheney Enter Grandstand

President George W. Bush entered the grandstand area just moments after Michelle Obama.  Bush received modest cheers in comparison...

Meanwhile, VP Dick Cheney was wheeled in due to his aching back.

-- 11:36 a.m.

 The Ex-Men

Former presidents are now entering the grandstand area. 

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, George Senior (walking a bit unsteadily with a cane) and Barbara Bush, then former President Bill Clinton and future Secretary of State Hillary Clinton make their way onto the grandstand while the military band plays.

-- 11:20 a.m.

View From Silver Seats

From the edge of the Reflecting Pool, the crowd alternates between quiet anticipation and cheers every time a favorite is projected on the Jumbotron.

Colin Powell's arrival was greeted with a big cheer. Then when the president-elect's motorcade pulled up to the Capitol, the screams and chants of "Obama" began. Now with just minutes before the official ceremony begins, the visitors are getting more restless, eager for the moment most have traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles to see.-- Julie Carey, Reporter
11:25 a.m.

 The Gang's All Here

The presidential motorcade has pulled up to the Capitol delivering President Bush, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Dick Cheney and Joe Biden at 10:59 a.m.

The Supreme Court judges are also making their way onto the grandstand.

Update to Chaos on 3rd Street

The whoops of joy you hear on the Mall are not just from those celebrating this histioric day. They come too from visitors who've finally reached their viewing spot.

What an odyssey to our Silver standing spot! The crowd movement was often chaotic and confusing for thousands who tried to enter the Silver seats from 3rd and C St. NW. Police refused to let the more than three-block-long clot of ticket holders through.

Eventually, they routed everyone through the Third Street Tunnel to the opposite side of the Capitol. It was an odd scene to see the tunnel filled with pedestrians, quite a few grumbling about the lack of direction.

The best guidance came not from police but Obama volunteers who jumped atop jersey barriers to direct the human traffic. Once clear of the tunnel, it took another hour to get to Silver security and to our position on the Reflecting Pool. Next stop -- the porta-potty.-- Julie Carey, Reporter
11 a.m.

On Their Way...

President Bush and President-elect Obama leave the White House in a motorcade headed along the mile and half drive to Capitol Hill.

--  Staff reports
10:49 a.m.

Dignitaries, Celebs Arriving

Celebrities, dignitaries and members of Congress continue to pour into the main viewing stand on the steps of the Capitol all the while being regaled with patriotic songs from the U.S. Naval Band.

Among the celebrity sightings so far: Dustin Hoffman, Mohammad Ali, Magic Johnson, John Cusack and Don King.  Sen. Ted Kennedy has also arrived and looks to be in good health.  The entire Bush family has arrived, as well.  -- Staff reports
10:45 a.m.

Still Packing People In

We moved on from the Pentagon to check out this crazy Metro situation. Since we were already in Virginia, and since so many people in Virginia are taking Metro (the bridges mostly all closed), we headed to the Vienna Metro station.

There were reports that the Vienna station had no more parking available ... yet when we arrived on scene we found a completely different story.  Yes, the station is crowded, but people are cheerful, orderly, and not having trouble finding parking. We checked out the garages on both side, and found a decent amount of spots still available around 10 a.m.

There are definitely still a lot of people heading into the District hoping to find a spot on the Mall.  In my opinion, their issue is not going to be about parking by the Metro, but whether or not they will be able to squeeze into this already jam-packed crowd. Time is ticking away quickly...

-- Kate Shaw, Production Assistant
10:30 a.m.

Update from Newseum

Over the last week, I researched the best way to get from my home at Vermont and U Sts., NW. I decided to take Metro's advice and walk it. The streets were quiet as I started my trek this morning at 7:15 a.m. But when I hit the Convention Center, everything became alive.

Secret Service, lines of walkers, drivers trying to figure out how close they could get to the Mall ... and, of course, long lines at Starbucks. There was a lot of confusion about what gates people should go into, and a lot of police from all over the country. After an hour or so in line at 7th & D, I got into the security zone, then to the Newseum.

We'll be up here all day, broadcasting from the Pennsylvania Avenue Terrace on the 6th Floor. Vance and Doreen will anchor live coverage of the parade. And Tom Sherwood will offer political and historical commentary throughout the afternoon.

Loyal viewers of News4 may notice our set ... it's the one we use for our Volunteer 4 segments. Our technical staff, led by Ron Liedelmeier, Chris Layne, and Chester Panzer, spent much of the last few days constructing it. -- Matt Glassman, Special Projects Producer
10:15 a.m.

Person Struck by Train at Gallery Place

Metro said a person was struck by a train at the Gallery Place Metro station.

Metro said the person is alive and trapped between the crawl space and the first rail. It is not clear at this time how the person was hit and whether the victim was pushed, fell or jumped.

Metro is on site and continues to investigate. Gallery Place Red Line traffic is stopped.

Click here for the latest.-- Jim Iovino,
10 a.m.

3rd Street Chaos

Huge crowds of people were turned away from crossing the parade route on Constitution Avenue at Third and C streets at about 9:30 a.m. and were being forced to go through the Third Street Tunnel.

The decision by officials to close the official crossing point early forced people to go around to the other side of the Capitol. There was little or no police presence or direction. So people walked aimlessly through the tunnel and had to find their way on their own when they got to the other end. -- Julie Carey, Reporter
9:30 a.m.

National Mall at Capacity?

From the National Park Service:

The National Mall east of 12th Street is closed and everything east of 14th street is "nearing capacity" - a.k.a. basically closed by now.

This is right before the Washington Monument, so everything from the Washington Monument to the Capitol Building is at full capacity as of 9:20 a.m.

Also, L'enfant Plaza Metro stop is having perhaps the most dangerous problems.

People getting off the Metro at that stop can't get out onto the street because the streets are so packed.

This is backing people up down the stairs and throughout the entire Metro stop.  So people can't get out of the Metro stop, creating dangerous situations.

-- Jim Iovino,

Lines, Lines Everywhere...

The word of the hour:  lines. 

There are lines everywhere around town, from outside Metro stations to the National Mall.  See a few of the pictures below to get a sense of what people are dealing with.

There are even reports of people being overcome by heat -- yes heat, if you can believe it -- at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station.  Our best guess:  they're all bundled up for the cold, but are stuck at the Metro station with no where to go.

There have been numerous reports for medical emergencies -- asthma attacks, fainting -- on the Mall.  That's the usual at big events such as this, but still it is creating some hectic moments for officials.

-- Jim Iovino,
9:05 a.m.

Lines in downtown DC trying to get to the Mall.

Making Friends on the Metro

The ride in on the Red Line was certainly an adventure.

The trains were absolutely packed. Passengers kept the mood light and the atmosphere was happy and warm.

We spoke with people from all over, from Chicago to Seattle. Flynn and I even scored an interview with former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, who just happened to be on our train.

We've landed at Union Station in pretty good time. Union Station is humming with anticipation of the big event as people crowd the lines for huge cups of coffee and hot chocolate.

We'll keep checking in throughout the day.

-- Brendan Williams-Kief, Assignment Editor
8:45 a.m.

 Massive Rush on Mass Transportation

As of 7 a.m., 207,345 people had used the Metrorail system.

There have been reports of long lines at Metro entry points, as well as at fare card machines.  Shame on you for six weeks if you didn't purchase a SmarTrip card in advance.  Here's to those who didn't hold up the line!

At any moment now President-elect Obama will be leaving Blair House for a service at St. John's Church.  You can watch it live, as well as all events throughout the day, by clicking here.

-- Jim Iovino,
8:30 a.m.

Views from the Inauguration

A shot from the National Mall at 8 a.m.:

The National Mall at 8 a.m.

 A view from the Washington Monument at 8 a.m.:

A view of the National Mall from the top of the Washington Monument at 8 a.m.

 And a shot of the crowds at 7th and D streets:

A shot of the crowds at 7th and D streets at 8 a.m.

Metro Getting Full

 Wow, the lines to get through the farecard readers are huge ... as many as 1,000-plus at Shady Grove.

We're hearing of problems at other stations, but so far so good for the inbound Red Line trains at Shady Grove.

Word of warning:  the Shady Grove parking lot is now full.

The trains should get more and more packed as we work our way into downtown D.C.

-- Brendan Williams-Kief, Assignment Editor
7:30 a.m.


Good Morning, Washington

 A shot of the Capitol from the Newseum:

A view of the Capitol from the Newseum.

Cheney's New Wheels

You may notice a man in a wheelchair during Tuesday's inauguration ceremony. 

That would be Vice President Dick Cheney, who pulled a muscle in his back while moving boxes during his move into his new home in McLean, Va.  His doctors thought it would be best for him to use a wheelchair for a few days, so don't be surprised when you see him during the ceremony.

Read more about it here.

And a Metro update:  The following parking lots are full: Branch Ave, New Carrollton, Greenbelt, Largo Town Center, Franconia-Springfield, Van Dorn, Rhode Island Avenue, Fort Totten, Vienna, East Falls Church.

-- Jim Iovino,
7:20 a.m.

Parade Participants Arrive

Once again, I'm going to just start by saying it is COLD. Like absolutely frigid.

As I'm known as someone who may not always (OK never) dress weather-appropriate, I must assure you that I truly bundled up today. Tights, jeans, two pairs of socks, boots, two thermal shirts, an Under Armor sweatshirt, fleece, gloves, hat and scarf. It is still not enough -- so those of you thinking of heading out ... beware!

But on a more positive note, the buses are starting to arrive here at the Pentagon with parade participants, and excitement is building. We were able to chat with a woman who's part of the Presidential Inaugural Committee.  She told us they had more applications sent to them for this parade than any other Inauguration parade before.

She said it took some tough decisions to figure out who made the cut. About 10,000 people will march in the parade (think: all 10,000 people must go through this security screening, yikes!). One of my favorite tidbits:  The first band marching in the parade will be from Barack Obama's high school in Hawaii. I hope someone gave them some pointers on surviving the D.C. weather!

-- Kate Shaw, Production Assistant,
7:15 a.m.

Latest Metro Update

Several Metro updates to share:

Blue and Orange Line trains are bypassing Federal Center SW due to crowded conditions until further notice.  Sorry folks ... those who need to get off there will have to go to next available station and walk.

Also, the Franconia-Springfield Metro station parking lot is full.  Edison High School has been opened up for parking as well as the Lorton and Backlick VRE Stations.  Fairfax Connector buses will take you from these parking lots to the Metro station.

The following station parking lots are now closed:  Branch Ave, New Carrollton, Greenbelt, Largo Town Center, Franconia-Springfield, Van Dorn.

-- Jim Iovino,
6:45 a.m.

Waiting Game at Pentagon

It's almost 6 a.m., but it still feels just as cold as it was when we arrived around 2 a.m. 

So far it has been a game of waiting here at the Pentagon parking lot. This is where they will be staging the Inaugural Parade, and let me tell you, it is quite an undertaking.  Every single person must go through the Secret Service "security sweep." After watching this security operation, I will never complain about airport security lines again. These guys do NOT mess around.

We had to leave the news truck just after 3:30 a.m. and walk across two parking lots -- basically far, far away from where all the media trucks are parked. Thankfully we were able to wait in a tent while the guards did a sweep of the trucks and the lots. It took an hour, but they finally finished checking our vehicles and the lots, and then it was our turn to be checked. After walking through detectors and emptying our pockets we were finally allowed back.

Every single participant in the parade will have to go through the same process. Then they will be bussed from this secure and "clean" area to another secure area where they will then start the parade, which could take a long time. So far though, the lot is empty. More updates as we start to see some action...

-- Kate Shaw, Production Assistant
6:15 a.m.

Riding the Rails

Riding the rails has been a hectic experience so far this inaugural morning.

The lots at most end-of-line stations are swamped and nearly completely parked up.

It seems that many riders are having more luck finding parking and elbow room at stations a stop or two in from the end of the train line.

In either event, the trains are full and the air is cold; a classic Inauguration.

-- Brendan Williams-Kief, Assignment Editor
6:10 a.m.

Metro Parking Issues

Several Metro issues already this morning.  Long lines at some of the outer stations as people attempted to find a place to park.

The problem?  Not enough people to take their money, apparently.  It's $4 to park, and it's cash only. 

Another problem:  Some of the lots are now full.  The Branch Avenue, Glenmont, New Carrollton and Greenbelt lots are filled to capacity, so find another lot if you have to park.  Officials are asking people to have someone drop you off at a Metro station if you can.

Want to see what the Shady Grove station looks like?  Watch this video.

Also, Metro just put out the following alert:

"Extremely crowded conditions on the Metrorail system. Please do not attempt to hold rail car doors open."

Should be a fun day!-- Jim Iovino,
5:30 a.m.

An Early Start

Welcome to Inauguration 2009.

Michael Flynn and I are at the Shady Grove Metro Station, where folks have been waiting in line since at least 2:30 a.m.

The general mood seems to be an excited, if not a little chilly, sleep-deprived giddiness.

If Shady Grove is any indication, Metro is in for a test of historical proportions.

-- Brendan Williams-Kief, Assignment Editor
Tuesday, 5 a.m.

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