We’re almost there.
Everyone’s been arriving for the last 48-72 hours, and the District has been packed to the gills with visitors and residents alike as we all cram into the ten miles square. Tomorrow’s festivities start mid-morning, with the oaths kicking off around 11:30am (both the President & Vice President took their official oaths today before noon), but there are pre-event festivities that will be starting earlier.
What time do I need to get there?
Good question. Plan on getting there early. Crowds are likely to be more sparse than the massive turnout for the 2009 Inaugural, but I would still bet on half a million or so of your closest friends and neighbors to pack the Mall. Plan on getting there well ahead of time. Treat it like a sporting event that you could tailgate for, only, well, you can’t tailgate on the Mall. So you’re probably just going to stand there and chat with friends and strangers.
Let’s just say, plan on getting to the Mall no later than 9am or so. If you have an actual hard ticket, plan on earlier still. If you’re just going down there to watch on the jumbotrons along the Mall, you’ve got a bit more time to get a spot near the big giant TVs. If you have to clear security, plan on more time even still. Everyone remembers the terrible purple tunnel of doom from 2009, and you really don’t want to get stuck like that.
How should I get there?
For the love of Pierre L’Enfant, don’t drive into the District.
Because of the Inauguration, you can’t get anywhere near the parts of the city in a car that you might want to. Plan on public transit, which means buses, metro or even Bikeshare (more on that in a minute). Metro is running at rush hour pace from opening tomorrow until late in the day. Three stations are closed tomorrow: Smithsonian, Archives and Mt. Vernon Square. WMATA has made a fancy video and has a whole sub site for just inauguration information including a trip planner.
What should I bring with me?
Well, as little as possible, frankly. There’s a list of Prohibited Items, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to cross the Secret Service on this one. But, if you’re into bringing stuff, may I recommend: a cellphone, a Smartrip card for Metro, your bikeshare key, pocket warmers, a small sealed bottle of water, and a snack. You’re probably going to be outside in the cold for at least a few hours, so dress in layers. Leave your backpack at home.
What if I bike down?
Good for you. If you Bikeshare, CaBi will have two separate corrals (one north – at 17th & K NW, and one south – at 12th & Independence SW) where staff will relieve you of your bike and reshuffle them back into the system. If you are just taking your own bike, DCist reports that DDOT will have a big bike parking lot at 16th and I St NW for you to lock up your ride. Remember, people: lights and helmets if you can swing it. And don’t bike like a jerk, okay?
What about the parade?
Doesn’t everyone love a parade? The Parade Route is going to be crowded, so unless you’re part of the ticketed areas of both the swearing in and the parade, I’d recommend picking one or the other. If you have tickets to neither, you definitely have to pick. The parade route opens at 6:30, and you can bet that people will be there well before. So, be prepared to stand around and wait until the parade starts, and that’s not likely until at least 2:30pm. This is going to be a long stand. Be ready.
Okay, so that was fun, now what?
Well, if you got lucky and have tickets to one of the inaugural balls, have an awesome time. Be polite, don’t get too sauced, and if you do, please make sure not to throw up on your rental tux, okay? That’ll cost ya. But in all reality, if you don’t have ball invites, then head out on the town. 154 bars requested – and were granted – permission to serve alcohol until 4am on Tuesday morning, and here’s a handy map of them.
Just one thing: have fun, and show off your city. This is a phenomenally beautiful place to live, work and play, and we shouldn’t be shy about sharing that with tourists, friends and neighbors. So share the love, everyone. This is likely their capital city, too, not just ours.