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Inauguration Day: At Home or In Person

Me freezing at 2009's Inauguration.
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I've got four layers on, hand warmers in my mittens and socks, and a hat. Never have I been so cold.

Whether you decide to brave the crowds and the cold, or stick indoors with the remote and a cup of coffee, the Inauguration on January 21, should not be missed.

For people like my husband it’s like a red carpet of the political news makers and local celebrities. For me it’s a chance to watch history in the making.

I can remember watching the Inauguration at home as a child back in the 90s. In 2009, we hit up the actual event along with thousands of our closest neighbors and friends.

This year, I’ll likely be curled up on the couch with my little one running around, laughing at all the people who braved the wind chill and not admitting to myself how fun it would be to be there. But I would never admit that out loud.

If you’ve decided to go, here’s a look at the schedule for the day’s events. Please also check out my tips from the last time around. You’ll be glad you did.

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Although the inauguration isn’t expected to be as crazy as last time around with concerts, celebrities and gazillions of balls, there will still be plenty of action to catch if you’re up for it.

If you decide to watch it on TV, chances are it’ll be on every major network. The fun starts at 11:30 a.m. eastern.

I can’t wait to see what Michelle and the girls are wearing. I can’t wait to see the Capitol Building looking all shiny and clean. I can’t wait to see if anyone will mess up– or if anything semi-controversial will happen.

If You Decide to Go to the Inauguration

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  • Plan to leave EARLY. We left about five hours before the program started and still waited in security lines for at least an hour and a half.
  • Pack hand warmers— and buy them now. We went to several stores looking for them ahead of time, before tracking them down at a local sporting goods store.
  • Wear layers. Especially if the forecast is looking foreboding.
  • Eat before you go, and pack snacks if you can. Last time around, the National Museum of American History opened up early to allow use of the restroom facilities. No word yet on if they’ll do that again this time around.
  • Make sure your camera batteries are charged and that you actually remember to take your camera card out of the computer. Can you imagine how awful it would be if you got all the way there, only to find out you couldn’t document it
  • Take metro and use your SmartTrip card. It opens at 4 a.m. on the 21st. It will likely be crowded with fans of all ages, so plan to burst that personal bubble and smell your neighbor– or risk waiting FOREVER to snag a seat.
  • Don’t even try to drive there. You will only be turned around. Most roads leading in and out the district are closed. A summary of road closures is available here. I’m not joking.
  • Don’t bring an umbrella (not allowed in ticketed areas and at the parade) and plan to go through security even if you’re only attending the parade.
  • Sign up to receive alerts and notices straight from the Presidential Inaugural Committee. That’s what they’re for!
  • Check with your local representatives for tickets. Plans always change at the last minute, and you may just be able to score a ticket closer to the action. You can view the swearing in ceremonies without a ticket from the National Mall beginning at 4th Street NW.
  • Sign up for a chance to volunteer if you’re able.

Schedule of Inauguration Events

  • Saturday, January 19: National Day of Service
  • Sunday, January 20: Official Swearing-in Event
  • Monday, January 21:Ceremonial Swearing In Event. 11:30 a.m. eastern. Tickets are not required on the National Mall past 4th Street, NW. You can request tickets to be closer from your local representatives.Inaugural Parade- 2:30 p.m along Pennsylvania Avenue.; FREE. The parade includes all branches of the armed forces, the president and first lady, and other participants. A full list of other groups participating is available here. You cannot line up along the parade route before 7 a.m. Public access points to the parade are available between 4th and 14th Streets.Inaugural Balls. If you were lucky enough to score a public ticket to The Inaugural Ball, that is awesome, and it will be held at the Washington Convention Center. The only other official Inaugural Ball is the Commander In Chief’s Ball, by invitation only. There is no shortage of unofficial inaugural balls around town– just don’t expect to see the president there!


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