January 19, 2009
Inauguration Diary: Monday afternoon
We got our first taste of Obamamania Monday afternoon at the Greenbelt Metro station. Marie and I parked the car at Baltimore's airport and rode a bus to the Metro station to head into D.C. It was chaos. At least 1,000 people were packed around the card machines you need to get a pass to ride the train. Everyone was waiting in line to get a Metro card with Obama's picture printed on it.
Click here to see inauguration photos from Monday in DC
After waiting in line for a half hour, Marie spotted a machine with no one in line. We asked about it and found out it would give us a card to jump a train, but the card wouldn't have Obama's picture on it. No-brainer, we skipped the line, got the standard Smartcard and headed to the city.
Once there, we quickly learned we would not be lacking for Obama souveniors/kitsch/propaganda. Vendors are everywhere selling T-shirts, hats, scarves, signs, buttons, puppets, bobbleheads, watches, paintings, and on and on. You name it, you can get an Obama on it. (Even an Obama muppet, left.)
After dropping our bags, we headed to the Capitol to scope out the scene. Conor Sweeney, Rep. Paul Ryan's press secretary, had sent an email offering to hand deliver our tickets once we got in line outside of the House office building. He ran out as soon as we got there and saved us an hour-plus long wait in line. It was a generous offer, much appreciated.
That gave us plenty of time to walk along the Mall and take in the scene. Folks, it's remarkable. Tens of thousands of people walking around, celebrating and generally enjoying the moment. We met one guy from the Bahamas who stood in front of the capitol waving his national flag and bragging he represented the 350,000 members of his island nation.
Huge monitors line the National Mall in preparation for tomorrow's ceremony. On Monday, the monitors replayed Sunday afternoon's concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Out of all the performers, Garth Brooks stole the show with a rousing rendition of "Shout." Even Monday, thousands of people threw their hands in the air when Brooks' performance was replayed.
In all, the foundation is set for a remarkable occasion. We'll be out early tomorrow morning to claim our standing-room spots behind the reflecting pool outside the Capitol. Hundreds of thousands, if not over 1 million, people are expected for tomorrow's ceremony. We wondered aloud what it will be like for Obama, staring out over that mass of people. There's so much hope on this one man. Let's hope he can meet even a fraction of the expectations placed on him.
Earlier Inauguration Diary entry here.