Congressional Inaugural Committee Says Prepare for the Worst

By: Emily Leaman

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies released an advisory Monday outlining what inaugural ticket holders should expect on January 20. In a nutshell: crowds, lots of standing, unpredictable weather, and more crowds.

Are you among the lucky 240,000 who’ll be getting tickets to the swearing-in? Here’s the abridged version of what to expect and how to prepare.

• Though the swearing-in program technically begins at 11:30, the musical prelude and seating will begin earlier. To be sure you don’t miss a minute of the action, get there as early as you can—security checkpoints open at 8 and end at 11:30. Stragglers won’t be allowed in.

• Walk or take Metro to the swearing-in. We repeat: Walk or take Metro. Do anything—anything—but drive a car or take a cab.

• Even persons with disabilities are out of luck. According to the statement, “There will be no vehicular access or parking in the areas around the Capitol on January 20, 2009. This includes vehicles with special disability license plates or tags.” And it gets worse: “Persons in wheelchairs or utilizing walkers should be aware that they will need to move across bumpy surfaces, grassy areas, and possible icy areas.”

• Be prepared to stand in the cold in a large crowd for up to six hours. Umbrellas will not be permitted, and neither will backpacks, duffel bags, Thermoses, coolers, or strollers. And don’t count on cell-phone service: Providers expect to be overloaded, and calls will likely be unable to connect. Use text messages when possible.

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