News & Politics

How to Plan for the 2013 Inauguration Ceremony and Parade

Here's some early information to help you get organized.

What to know if you plan to watch the swearing-in ceremony and/or the presidential parade. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Sapphireblue.

The best advice we’ve seen, so far, about making plans to attend the 2013 Inauguration Ceremony, is this: If you live or will be staying within a two-mile radius of the Capitol, or if you plan to park at that distance from the Capitol, the best plan is to walk to the swearing-in ceremony on Monday, January 21. A car will be a liability because there will be little or no parking available. Public transportation will operate on a rush-hour basis, with peak rates in effect, but with amended schedules and routes and some station closures. All Metro stations, bus stops, and streets within the security perimeter will be closed, including in particular Archives and Smithsonian. Bridges may be closed to all but bus traffic. The Third Street tunnel will be closed to automobiles and pedestrians.

As with the 2009 inauguration, the security perimeter includes the Capitol and the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route to the White House and expands for several blocks beyond the route in all directions. There will be access to inside the perimeter at designated spots, and in some cases tickets will be required for access, in particular the swearing-in ceremony or for parade seats. Those who wish to stand along the parade route will be be allowed entry inside the perimeter beginning at 7 AM on Monday, January 21. These spots are first come, first served and the entry points will close when the spaces are filled. Dressing for the weather is essential. At the moment, the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting sunny weather for the period of January 16 through 20, but rain or snow could be in the mix. The average high is 45 degrees, and the average low is 25 degrees.

While the crowds aren’t expected to be as large as they were in 2009, there will still be a lot of people on the streets. There will also be an enormous amount of security, especially around the Capitol, along Pennsylvania Avenue, and near the presidential parade reviewing stand at Lafayette Park—enough to rattle nerves and drain patience. Be prepared with valid ID (for yourself and every member of the family). Expect personal searches. Overhead will be air patrols. Sharpshooters will stand at the tops of buildings. Every surveillance camera in the city will be lit up. The security forces involved include the Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol Police, the US Park Service Police, the Secret Service, and the Executive Protective Service. In an interesting aside, the Secret Service published a procurement notice for 46 buses and their drivers to provide “barricading service” on inauguration day along the parade routes.

There’s a long list of what you can and cannot bring with you through the security checkpoints. Cell phones and cameras will be allowed, but no additional camera gear such as bags and tripods. Here are some more no-nos: the obvious (mace or pepper spray, knives, blades or sharp objects, explosives of any kind, firearms, and ammunition), and the more innocuous, such as backpacks, packages, suitcases, thermoses, coolers, pocket tools, sticks or poles, umbrellas, laser pointers, posters, alcohol, animals (except for service animals), and large bags. No child strollers on the Capitol grounds or along the parade route. Strollers are permitted on the Mall provided they are actually carrying a child. Typically hundreds of Porta-Potties are set up on and near the Mall and along the parade route.

For updated information about public transportation, it is best to visit these sites directly: