Oprah and Aretha Pack in Crowds at the Kennedy Center

By: Emily Leaman, Kate Nerenberg

Thousands gathered at the Kennedy Center this afternoon to catch a glimpse of the opera house's power lineup: Oprah Winfrey and Aretha Franklin.

Despite reports that Winfrey's show would broadcast live, taping for the show, which aired at 4 PM EST, wrapped up by 2. Hundreds of gawkers and media types gathered at the Kennedy Center's Hall of Nations entrance to catch a glimpse of Winfrey and her all-star lineup of guests. Winfrey eluded the crowds—perhaps she stuck around to watch the free Aretha Franklin concert?—but the mob seemed content to snap photos of NFL veteran Emmitt Smith, California's first lady Maria Shriver, hip-hop star Will.i.am, and actors Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.

Meanwhile, a serpentine line of hundreds lined up for the Aretha Franklin concert. Though the concert starts at 6, Aretha fans began arriving before 11 AM to guarantee a a spot inside. According to the Kennedy Center Web site, tickets would be given out beginning at 4 PM. However, guests at the front of the line told The Washingtonian that they had been given tickets earlier in the day and that only those with orange ticket stubs would get in.

Concert goers, barred from waiting inside, had to find creative ways to stay warm. One woman from Sacramento was wearing four layers, including a Barack Obama sweatshirt she'd purchased at a Metro stop earlier in the day. As far as bathrooms went, a Porta Potty was provided, but most preferred to sneak over to the nearby Watergate Complex to warm up and use the facilities. 

Despite the cold and long hours of standing in line, most were in good spirits. "We're so proud of Obama!" said Melissa Mayfield from New Jersey, who came to Washington last night. "What better way to celebrate the occasion than with the Queen of Soul?" 

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