Only Two “Official” Inaugural Balls, Down From Ten in 2009

Both official balls will be held at the DC Convention Center.

By: Carol Ross Joynt

The Presidential Inauguration Committee has confirmed there will be only two “official” inaugural balls to mark the second inauguration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and both will be held under one roof—the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

This is a marked contrast to four years ago when there were ten official balls, but it is a planned strategy to create an inauguration that is mindful of the nation’s economic situation. The scaled back inauguration also puts less of a strain on the city, law enforcement, and overall security, which can get overwhelmed by a newly inaugurated president motorcading around town to multiple balls.

The two 2013 inaugural balls, the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball and The Inaugural Ball, will occur on Monday evening, January 21, after the President’s public swearing in at the Capitol and the inaugural parade along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. The President is expected to take the formal oath of office at the White House on Sunday, January 20.

The Presidential Inauguration Committee said the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball will be for members of the U.S. military. Tickets will be free to invited guests, which will include active duty and reserve service men and women, Medal of Honor recipients, and wounded warriors and their spouses.

According to PIC spokesperson Addie Whisenant, “Americans from across the country will be invited to share in the celebration at The Inaugural Ball, a unified celebration for all Americans.” That ball will be large, using every hall in the Convention Center. The President and Vice President are expected to attend both balls. It's not out of the question that they might stop elsewhere—perhaps at the Hawaii Ball on January 20 for President Obama, and the Delaware Ball, also January 20, for Vice President Biden.

If you are not invited to one of the “official” balls, don’t despair. There are dozens of other “unofficial” and state balls, happening Thursday through Monday nights, and a range of other receptions and activities. For example, First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden will host a children’s concert at the Convention Center on Saturday, January 19. Tickets for the concert will be distributed by the Joint Task Force National Capital Region and the Department of Defense, working with the PIC. No word yet, though, on who will be performing.

Probably the most exclusive ball will be the “staff” inaugural ball which, according to a source, will happen the day after all the others, will also be at the Convention Center, and is expected to feature some special entertainment.