Inaugural Planners Working to Game Out Jan. 20 Scenarios

In a little more than a month, 800,000 people are expected to flock to the National Mall for Donald Trump's presidential inauguration. 

As plans take shape, hundreds of planners planted themselves in front of a giant 60-by-40-foot floor map of Washington on Wednesday for a daylong rehearsal of how each moment of Inauguration Day 2017 will play out.

These are not people who like surprises: They're looking to game out every scenario for a day that should be all about the peaceful transfer of power and not pesky mix-ups.

Wednesday's rehearsal was sponsored by the military, which provides 13,000 active duty and National Guard members to help with inaugural events, including the swearing-in ceremony, parade, protests, balls and movement of hundreds of thousands of spectators.

People in town to demonstrate are a major concern, Maj. Gen. Bradley Becker of the joint task force said. 

"Clearly, at this point the biggest concern are the number of potential protesters," he said. 

Military personnel do not do police work but they can, if asked, back up D.C. police, the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies. None of the U.S. Armed Forces members of streets will be armed; their job is to do crowd control and handle ceremonial events, officials said. 

"America's Got Talent" singer Jackie Evancho said she will be singing the national anthem at the Jan. 20 swearing-in, a role Beyoncé performed in 2013. Trump's communications director for the inaugural committee tweeted that 16-year-old Evancho is "an inspiration for all Americans."

"It's going to be awesome," Evancho told NBC's "Today" show.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee is sorting through applications from 200 groups hoping to march in the inaugural parade. No high school marching bands from the District of Columbia are expected to be in that stack, though.

NBC4 reported Wednesday that no city public schools applied, although D.C. schools have marched in the past five inaugural parades.

What keeps these inaugural planners up at night?

The weather, for one thing.

"I put the chaplain on this task," joked Maj. Gen. Bradley Becker, commander of the joint task force providing military ceremonial support for inaugural events. "He has guaranteed us a beautiful, 40-degree, clear and very nice day."

(Just in case, though, each military participant comes to Washington with three uniforms designed for different kinds of weather.)

Beyond that, there's the matter of Donald Trump. Will this most unconventional president-elect go all-in for the traditional pomp and ceremony that has long been associated with Inauguration Day?

"There's only so many ways you can make this thing happen," said Brig. Gen. George Degnon, deputy commanding general for the inauguration. "Generally speaking, the inauguration is taking shape as it has in the past."

Degnon added that military planners working side by side with Trump's team at the Presidential Inaugural Committee have gotten no indication that he wants to break sharply with inaugural traditions.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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