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Rick Searing's Trip to the Inauguration

Set I

This set of pictures was taken Monday, January 19th.  They show us first heading to DC, picking up our Inauguration tickets and our Midwestern Ball tickets.  We rode in from the very first DC Metro stop on the Orange Line – the Fairfax/Vienna stop.

The earlier pictures show the preparations being completed on Monday around the Capitol building and on Pennsylvania Avenue (the Inaugural Parade route).  We had dinner Monday evening on Pennsylvania Avenue around 7:00 PM.  The Secret Service was in the process of sweeping the building and the entire parade route.  From our window seat looking out to Pennsylvania Ave., we witnessed hazardous materials teams, police, fire, and emergency medical crews go building to building to check them.  We even had some enter our restaurant as we were finishing up our dinner.

On Tuesday, we realized that the area we were in on Monday was the same area that President and Mrs. Obama walked along the parade route, so it explained the intense security sweep we witnessed the evening before. 

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Set II

This set is from Inauguration Day, January 20th.  We woke up at 3:00 AM, got ready quickly and hit the road to park and ride the DC Metro in again from the Vienna stop on the Orange Line.  About 1-2 miles from our exit, traffic on the highway (I-66) came to a halt.  Turns out that there were plenty of parking spots (as we found out by listening to a local radio station) but that there were not enough parking attendants to take the $4 to park.  After about an hour wait, we made it into the parking structure and got in line for our train.

After about an hour and a half train ride (the same one the day earlier took only 30 minutes) – we reached our destination downtown.  The Secret Service closed our original stop (Federal Center) so we had to proceed one stop further towards the Capitol and get off there.  The conditions were highly crowded (as was on the train in) – but amazingly – everyone was in a wonderful mood.  We were laughing, talking and generally having a wonderful time.  There was no pushing, shoving or any sort of aggression by anyone.  It felt like everyone realized we were all in the same predicament – and it we all took our time – everyone would make it to the mall – or in our case to our ticketed seating area in the Silver section.

Once we made it out of the Metro system we proceeded to the area that was for entry for Silver inaugural ticket holders.  There was a single file line that we tried to follow to its end – but it headed in the wrong direction and wrapped around the Department of Education building at least two times.  After seeing the confusion and chaos that was occuring with people in line, people who were trying to find the end of the line, and the masses of people who were in line that didn’t even have tickets – we decided to go straight to the Silver ticket entry point at 3rd and Independence Avenues.

When we arrived at 3rd and Independence, we quickly made our way through the security checkpoint and out into our assigned standing section at the top of the mall, just behind Third Street around 9:30 AM.

We had a great view of both the Capitol building and Inauguration Ceremony as well as a jumbo television screen to our right.  It allowed us  to watch a live feed of what we were seeing in front of us occurring at a distance. 

The crowd and ceremony was amazing.  People in our area were friendly and in great spirits.  Many were from different areas of the country (like us from Michigan) or individuals that had government connections due to jobs in different areas of DC (Department of Defense, Commerce, etc.)  Some of the most memorable moments – taking for granted the amazing speech by President Obama – were when the crowd spontaneously started chanting in unison, when there were cheers for individuals on the screen as they were being seated prior to the start of the ceremony (Senator Ted Kennedy received one of the largest ovations – followed by Muhammad Ali) and when all of the people in our area waved “Goodbye” to former President Bush as he departed in his helicopter and flew down the length of the Mall.

After the ceremony, we rode the Orange Line back to our car (arriving around 3:30 PM) found a quick lunch at a local restaurant in Fairfax, VA and then went back the to parking structure and changed in the car into our formal wear for our evening entertainment – the Official Midwestern Inaugural Ball.

Make sure to watch the videos in this section which show the crowd coming out of the DC Metro at the Capitol South stop and on the Mall.  Video of the Mall were shot both before and during the Inaugural Ceremony.

Video Clip 1

Video Clip 2

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Set III

This set of pictures is from the Official Midwestern Inaugural Ball.  We were lucky enough to be offered the chance to use one of seven (yes, seven !) pairs of tickets that were allocated to Representative Upton. 

The Midwestern Ball was at the Washington Convention Center, in a Hall near the Western Ball and the Neighborhood Ball (which was the one televised across the nation).

We first danced to the tunes of the Motown Revue Band, which had four male and female singers and who sang everything from Diana Ross to Marvin Gaye.

After the Motown group was finished, we took some pictures near the entrance of the Ball by a large banner that was setup.  On our way back down the entry staircase, we passed Jesse Jackson who was speaking with members of his family, including his son.  As we were walking down the stairs back to the main floor of the Ball, Governor Chet Culver of Iowa was directly behind us.

While taking our pictures, we saw that President & Mrs. Obama were in the building at the Neighborhood Ball.  So, we made our way over to the main stage to wait for his appearance.  First, Sheryl Crow came out and gave about an hour and thirty minute performance that was incredible.  She was followed by Vice President Biden and Mrs. Biden.  Vice President Biden talked to the crowd for about 5 minutes and then he and his wife shared a dance.

As The Biden’s danced and entertained, the Honor Band for President Obama was assembling and shortly after they were seated and tuned, they played Hail to the Chief and out came President and Mrs. Obama.  President Obama spoke to us for about 5 minutes as well – and then he and his wife danced to “At Last”.  A funny moment happened when President Obama told us it was time for him to “dance with the one that brought him” – “who does everything I do, except backwards and in heels” J  It was truly an amazing night!

Make sure to watch the video of the President and Mrs. Obama making their entrance.  It was thrilling.

Video Clip

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Set IV

These are scans of all of tickets to the inauguration, the official invitation we received to the Inauguration (including signed photos of both Vice President Biden and President Obama) our subway tickets and parking pass and some of the maps and information we received prior to the Inauguration to help us navigate the crowds over the course of our time in DC.

Please feel free to contact me at rsearing@portageps.org if you have any questions or want more specifics about any part of our trip.  There are a ton more stories to tell!

DC Metro Map
Inaugural Luncheon Menu & Recipes
Secret Service Security Map DC

Inaugural Ceremony Guidelines.jpgInaugural Seating Map.jpg
Inauguration Ceremony Program.jpgInauguration Day Metro Tickets.jpg
Invitation Letter from Upton.jpgMetro Transit Parking Pass.jpg
Official Inaugural Invitation.jpgOfficial Inaugural Silver Tickets.jpg
Official Invitation Biden Photo Signed.jpgOfficial Invitation Obama Signed Photo.jpg
Official Midwestern Ball Tickets.jpgWelcome Letter Rep Upton.jpg