No matter who gets elected to the White House, witnessing the inaugural swearing-in ceremony is an honor. The next presidential inauguration is Jan. 21, 2013, where either Gov. Mitt Romney will stand on the podium for the first time or President Barack Obama gets sworn in for his second term.
Tickets for the inaugural swearing-in ceremonies are made available in January 2013 by members of the House and Senate. These tickets give viewers closer access to the ceremony, which takes place on the Capitol lawn. But tickets are not required to stand with the crowd of viewers down the National Mall. It will be nearly impossible to see or hear anything except on jumbo-sized television screens. But many people go to take part in history with millions of others.
If you’re interested in tickets, reach out to your House and Senate representatives now by calling their offices and asking if they have any sense of when tickets will be available and how you can get them. They may have already started waiting lists of people who are interested in tickets.
Some things to keep in mind:
-Dress warmly. January in Washington can be bitterly cold with a wind that feels like it’s going right through your skin and bones. The last few inaugurations have had beautiful sunny but cold temps. But you will need to be prepared for possible rain, sleet, or even snow. The inauguration goes on despite the weather.
-Take Metro. The inauguration draws millions of people from all over the country. Security will be tight and streets will be closed. If you’ll be an onlooker from the National Mall, get off at the Smithsonian. If you have tickets to the inauguration, get off at Capitol South or Union Station. If the crowds are really bad, you may want to consider getting off at a stop a little farther away. Other stops that will get you within the vicinity of the inauguration include: Federal Triangle, L’Enfant Plaza, Archives, Federal Center, and Judiciary Square.
-Allow lots of time. With lots of people, comes slower transportation. The Metro will be crowded and it may take time to even get on the right train. All enough time to get to the right spot whether that be near the Capitol, on the National Mall, or near Pennsylvania Avenue for the parade. And the sooner you get there, the better viewing position you’ll be able to snag.
-Take as little as possible with you. Take identification, a camera, and cash to get around on the Metro. But don’t take much else. You won’t be able to stretch out a blanket or set out chairs. This event is generally standing room only, so there will be little else to do but witness history and take some pictures.
What happens at the inauguration:
-First, the president usually goes to a worship service early in the morning. Many of the past presidents have attended the service at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
-Then the president-elect, vice president-elect, and their spouses are escorted to the White House for a meeting. The president-elect and the outgoing president ride togehter to the U.S. Capitol for the swearing-in ceremonies. This tradition has been around since 1837.
-The vice president-elect is the first to get sworn in. He will recite the oath on the west front terrace of the U.S. Capitol.
-The president-elect then gets sworn in on the same platform and recites the presiential oath of office, which is article II, section I of the U.S. Constitution, to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
-Then it’s time for the president’s inaugural address, a tradition since George Washington’s address on April 30, 1789. The speech, given on the west front of the Capitol, is used to present their vision for America and to set forth goals for the country.
-After the speech, the outgoing president and first lady leave the Capitol to start their post White House lives. President Bush was flown over Washington by helicopter for a last look at the city he lived in for 8 years.
-Then the new president and vice president have an inaugural lunch at the Capitol. It usually includes traditional food from their home state, speeches, gift presentations, and toasts to the new administration.
-The inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue is next, with the president, vice president, and their families watching from the sidelines. The parade features ceremonial military regiments, citizens’ groups, marching bands, and floats. The parade has been a tradition since George Washington took the oath.
-The ceremony ends with the inaugural ball, an elegant and widely anticipated dinner and dancing celebration planned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. It’s a tradition that’s taken place since 1789 with George Washington. It didn’t become an official event until 1809 after James Madison’s inauguration.