Starting tomorrow, a good part of downtown Washington will start falling under a security blanket of sorts. The Presidential Inauguration is designated as a National Special Security Event, which means a slew of protective measure and protocols are put in place, and the Homeland Security Department, Secret Service, and DC police kick into high gear.
Official inauguration events begin on Sunday, with an eye toward Monday's main event on the Mall. But with balls and celebrations beginning around town Saturday night, you'll see a heightened security presence on and under DC streets, in the skies, and on the water. We've got a list of helpful tips for anyone venturing out in the cold on Monday. And here's an idea of where you're likely to see beefed up security over the next few days.
For starters, you're going to see a lot of armed men and women in uniform on the street. The Secret Service has the lead on security for the Inauguration, but if 2009 is any guide, there will be tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from dozens of government agencies on duty.
Road closures and restrictions will start taking effect Sunday morning at 7am. This map shows you where. NOTE: If you are parked inside the security perimeter, you may not be able to get out until Tuesday at 7am, when the closures are lifted. And if you're parked in a garage along the parade route, you may not be able to remove your vehicle. More info on roads and traffic is here.
The Secret Service has keys to buildings along the parade route, and sharpshooters will be stationed on rooftops.
There will be security screenings for anyone attending the public swearing-in ceremony. That goes for the general public as well as ticketed guests. If you plan to enter the parade route, you're going to get screened in some way. So plan ahead, and leave anything forbidden at home.
Also, be prepared to remove your own trash, because all garbage bins will be removed or sealed shut. Same goes for mailboxes.
If you look up, you're going to see a lot more aircraft in the skies than usual. The Coast Guard will patrol the waterways, and Air Force jets will circle above the city. Unless you're planning on flying in your own plane this weekend, you probably dont need to worry. Nevertheless, expect lots of helicopters buzzing along the rivers and over the secured zone. More information is on the FAA's Web site.
There will also be enhanced security on Washington waterways. Direct any questions to the U.S. Coast Guard via marine band radio VHF channel 16, or to the Metropolitan Police Department Harbor Patrol at 202-727-4582.