Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration Day - Parade

So with the ceremony over we start pushing our way down Pennsylvania Avenue. It's cold, crowded, crazy. We walk a couple blocks and things thin out. In fact, we walk along Pennsylvania, and could pick a front-row seat anyplace we want. Barricades are set up but there aren't many people here. They're all either stuck in checkpoints, or on the Mall on the other side of PA ave. It's 12:30 and we're supposed to meet my husband and kids at a viewing party near 15th street. I worry about him coming downtown alone with the kids. The tv showed lines for hundreds of yards just to get into the Metro. We suggest he leave at 1pm to just come for the parade and miss all the ceremony traffic. Worthless AT&T allows no traffic. No phone, no text, no email. All the superlative technology in my hand in the form of my iphone is worthless. The towers are just maxed out. I later found out people with Verizon do just fine. They make countless phone calls to each other! I'm ready to scream. My friend gets 8 voicemails 12 hours later on two different occasions over the weekend.

We have at least 2 hours to stand in the cold and see a car go by, or we can make our way to 15th street to warmth and family. So we leave our perfect viewing spot and keep walking. We overhear a man say, "You have a decision to make. You can watch the parade and get hypothermia or you can go home and watch it on tv." I'm with him. The one thing that made it hard to leave was that we found the press box set up. That was the place to be of course. If we could have gotten through to my husband we would have had him meet us there with the kids - but then we would have had to stand in the cold for 3 hours with kids complaining.

Anyway, we make our way down Pennsylvania, and eventually hit a blockade and have to leave the interiors of the security checkpoint. We know we'll never get back in as now the lines are really long. It's hard to walk out....

The streets are all closed to traffic so they're just a festival of souvenir vendors, food vendors, people walking, people cheering. The Obamas' image is seen on every item a person could ever purchase - buttons, scarves, posters, bobble heads, action figures, hats.

We make it to our destination: a building overlooking the route, outside of the security checkpoints. The checkpoints are now a mass of thousands of people and must be 2 hours long. 
At this point we're so  happy to go inside as we're freezing. My face is cold and my handwarmers aren't warm enough yet. As soon as we get in the building we start sweating. We go upstairs into the ladies room and start furiously stripping off some of our extra layers. Turtleneck sweaters are flying, hair is sticking up with static, faces flushed. I look in the mirror and try and figure out how to look a little less like I've been run over like a truck. Lip gloss seems like a good solution, but to very little avail. We eventually leave, find my family and enjoy the party. 

The party is lovely. It's full of nice people, good food and a downstairs kid area staffed by White House Nannies. My kids eat at least 8 cupcakes, brownies, cookies, each. I'm grossed out watching them. The organizers hired a Barak Obama impersonator and two fake Secret Service people. We introduced Natasha, who was fooled, and proceeded to ask him a few important questions. Nice to know she wasn't the least bit shy about meeting the President!

The parade is of course very slow coming. The Obamas get back in the car for JUST OUR BLOCK! but it's fun anyway. We are so done, so tired, so ready to lie down.

When it's time to leave we get home with no traffic on the Metro, and it's perfectly seamless. Inauguration Weekend is over for us - we just watch all the balls on t.v.

Today at work everyone was swapping stories. We were definitely witness to history, but so was everyone watching it on tv. I hope the kids remember the jubilation on the streets!

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