When I received the call, I thought it must be a prank. Yes, the area code was (202) – definitely a DC area number. But how is it possible that out of thousands who put their name on the request list for inauguration ceremony tickets, I was one of 44 in Rhode Island to get a ticket? It seems crazy, I never win anything. Radio contests, money on scratch tickets, raffles at carnivals – nothing. But this is something to win. As the day approaches, I find myself reading all the instructions on the official inauguration committee website and feeling a mix of excitement, nervousness and extreme claustrophobia.
According to one site, the DC Metro Authority is expecting “crushing” levels of crowds to flood the trains as many road and bridge closures will force attendees to use public transit to get to the event. To add to this, (still) President Bush declared a State of Emergency in Washington, DC for the inauguration festivites so the inaugural committee can tap into reserve funds to increase security and crowd control measures. Over a million people are expected to descend into DC for the events and I can only imagine what that will look like up close and personal.
The last time I was in Washington, DC with a large crowd was the weekend after I moved there in 2004 for an internship as a public policy assistant for an area based non-profit. The largest anti-war march was taking place in front of the White House and my roommates and I headed in to experience it first hand. Close to 100,000 people attended the march and I remember being literally awestruck at the size and scope of the crowds. Now, faced with prospect of being in a similar location with ten times that amount, I am more than a little freaked out.
Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to the day. I think there will be a certain electric energy in the air and I am so thrilled to be part of such a historic event in American history. I am prepared – I know the DC area well, having lived there for close to a year, and am bringing warm clothes and super comfortable shoes. I fully expect to wake up at the crack of dawn to get on the metro and try to at least get into the city with a reasonable amount of time to get through security lines. I’m praying for no rain or snow as umbrellas are among the many items banned from the event – other prohibited items include duffel bags, backpacks, thermoses, tents (!?!?) and of course, explosives and firearms. That they even have to list those items is a bit ridiculous but I’m sure there was some guy in West Virginia, gathering up his camping gear and guns preparing to head to DC for the event and had it not been for the list of banned materials, he may have made the long trip for nothing.
I leave on Sunday for DC – I’ll be back on Wednesday with I’m sure some ridiculous stories and hopefully some incredible memories. Wish me luck!
Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter