Tuesday morning we were out of Bill and Diana's house at 6am. Walked to the Metro and got on with no problems. We made it to our stop and once outside my hopes sank...the crowd of people, wait, the sea of people was unbelievable. I knew it would be, but was hoping that if we got there early enough it wouldn't be too bad. WRONG. All I kept thinking was I wanted a front row seat at the parade. The security lines were supposed to open at 7am - supposed to. They didn't open on our side of the Mall until 7:45 or so. It took us almost 2 hours to get through. Once at the security tents, we had to get rid of all our water and also they made us pull the sticks off our flags. We didn't know this until this evening, but apparently there was a significant threat to the actual inauguration, so security was tighter. We got in and that's all that mattered. Ok, so here's the scoop. You could go to the Mall with the millions to watch the actual inauguration on the jumbo tvs....or you could go to the parade route and maybe get to see the President. I opted for the later. We got front row seats on the curb on the parade route - we were right at the Newseum, right under where everyone (CNN, etc...) was broadcasting. It was a prime location and was incredible. By the way, the parade doesn't start until 2:30 but they were only letting about 300,000 on the route, so we knew if we didn't get there early we wouldn't get in. That's exactly what happened to so many people - they were turned away by security and they didn't make it inside. I would have been devastated.
We realized soon after we were in, that the motorcade would more than likely come right in front of us heading to the Capitol. Sure enough about 10:30 the police came screaming through and then all the SUVs came through. We saw Barbara Bush and realized that everyone would be taking this route. Before too long we saw the first ladies in a limo together, followed by the VPs and then President Bush was in President (elect's) limo. It was so cool!
We were able to see the inauguration area (closer with binoculars) and hear the inauguration. This is when the worst part set in for us...after the swearing in was over and the waiting for the parade started. Their lunch took forever, or so it seemed. They were running late too, so that didn't help. It was COLD, frigid cold and we had no fluids. No one was selling anything to drink so that was bad. We could have walked about 5-6 blocks to stand in line for 2 hours for coffee, but we would have run the risk of them closing down the side street and not getting back to our front row seat. So we sat. Bill had a hand held tv, so we were able to keep up with what was going on. We were hoping that because we were so close to the press box that would mean that President Obama would get out and walk near us - also, on the tops of all the buildings were snipers. We felt safe.
Finally the lunch was over. The announcer had told us that we would know the lunch was over because they would have what was called a "10 minute dash" - this is where the VIPs that are at the lunch with the newly sworn in President are also supposed to be at the viewing stand for the parade, which is at the White House. So they would have about 10 minutes to get people loaded up and down to the White House - thus the dash...and they weren't kidding. All of a sudden police escorts come flying down the street with 4 or 5 buses (Greyhound type) behind them.
The parade started. I can't describe to you the level of excitement at this point. The excitement was tremendous from the very beginning of the day, but now it was only growing. We saw the press trucks coming, so we knew President Obama was right behind. He didn't get out and walk in front of us, but he did look right at us and waved. He made eye contact with us as we waved. And the girls were just bouncing in the limo waving and smiling. It was incredible!!!
The entire day from the time we left until the time we got back was incredible. We ran into some wonderful people that wanted to be a part of history. We were a part of history. It doesn't matter who you voted for or who you stand behind, you respect the office and the person in the office. There were people today that weren't respecting the one that was leaving office and that made me sad. He deserves our respect, and so does the one that's in the office now. I was proud to be an American today, I am proud to be an American every day. I should be in bed right now because I'm exhausted, but I seriously can't wind down - just thinking of the President and First Lady dancing at 10 balls in that gorgeous white dress and wondering what the girls are doing and thinking about. Getting settled in a new home, the White House? Can you imagine? It was an impressive event and I loved it! I didn't really edit these pics because I just wanted to post them quickly - so hope you can get the feel for the day! Enjoy! Mark took this pic of the White House Monday night as we were driving around - kind of cool
Back at home - this is Bill and Diana and their adorable house in DC