WASHINGTON – Although certainly a smaller scale, tens of thousands of Americans have descended upon the nation’s capital to observe the beginning of President Obama’s second term.
Members of the media met with a number of inauguration organizers on Wednesday to address questions and concerns about President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. The panel, composed of individuals from the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Events, the U.S. Capitol Police and the military, discussed the details surrounding the inaugural festivities.
“This will be much more along the size and scope of past inaugurations,” said Brent Colburn, the PIC’s communications director. Although the committee does not make projections or take a head count, Colburn expects there to be a much smaller crowd for Obama’s second inauguration, which drew 1.8 million to the nation’s capital in 2009.
The National Day of Service will kick off inaugural weekend with a variety of service projects taking place throughout Washington, such as sprucing up the grounds at the Washington Monument and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Across the country, money has been allocated to all 50 states to support 2,000 service events held that day, Colburn said.
“It’s something we hope to see become part of future inaugurations,” Colburn said.
First lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden will host the Kid’s Inaugural Concert at the Washington Convention Center Saturday night. The event, first started by the pair in 2009, is geared toward children of military families and D.C. public school students.
Due to Jan. 20 falling on a Sunday for only the seventh time in American history, both the president and vice president will be sworn in before Inauguration Day. Chief Justice John Roberts will give the president the oath on Sunday – and repeat the swearing-in with a ceremonial oath-taking at the Capitol on Monday. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who will swear in Vice President Joe Biden, is the fourth woman and first Hispanic in history picked to swear in a president or vice president.
Performances by Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor will provide the prelude to the president’s ceremonial swearing-in on Monday morning. In addition, Richard Blanco, the first Hispanic and also the first gay men, to serve as the inaugural poet, will read an original work.
At noon, the president is scheduled to place his hand on two Bibles and recite the Oath of Office. For a second time, Obama will use the Bible President Abraham Lincoln used to take the oath. Beneath it however, will be Martin Luther King, Jr’s bible. Both books offer strong symbolism, as the country remembers the Emancipation Proclamation delivered 150 years ago and the March on Washington 50 years ago. For a closing act, the White House has enlisted Beyonce to perform the national anthem.
In the event of inclement weather, the whole production can move inside – directly under the Capitol Dome in the spacious Capitol Rotunda.
President Obama and the first family will make their way down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House in an Inaugural Parade that will feature 2,300 members of the military, marching bands and many floats and groups including the Gym Dandies’ unicyclers.
The number of inaugural balls truly shows the down-scaled level of Obama’s second inauguration. The day’s festivities conclude with just two inaugural balls, down from 10 held four years ago. The Commander in Chief’s Inaugural Ball, one of the president’s favorite events, began in 2005 and honors members of the military and their families. Attendance is expected to be twice the size of the 2009 gala. The Inaugural Ball will be attended by members of the public who purchased tickets, Obama campaign staff members and other officials. Entertainers are being finalized and will be announced by Friday.
“We hope to have a much richer experience this time around,” Colburn said.