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We'll bring you first-hand accounts of local Seattle-area residents and their journey to D.C. and generally all things inauguration. If you're going to the inauguration and would like to contribute, contact us here.

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January 21, 2009 12:24 PM

BET Inaugural Ball

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Teresa Scribner

After the horrendous start to the day trekking down to the National Mall in the freezing cold after only having 30 minutes of sleep, I was so not in the partying mood tonight. But regret would not be sufficient enough word to describe how I would've felt if I had missed this party.

The BET Inaugural Ball was celebrity packed and over the top crazy fun! When we arrived, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife, Alma, were making a speech on behalf of America's Promise. It's a charity designed to help young kids succeed. Colin Powell made a comment about turning the reins over to his wife when he was appointed to office, and now she wouldn't give them back. But when it was her turn to speak, she zinged him right back and said it was because she did a better job at it. I don't know why I was surprised to see Colin Powell at a hip-hop party, but it turned into a sight to behold. More on that later.

teresa_Colin and Alma Powell

The highlight of the night was a performance by Wyclef that basically turned into an hour-long concert. It was FREAKING AMAZING!!! He sang some of hits plus some from The Fugees. But it was his rendition of "No Woman, No Cry" that led Colin Powell to the front of the dance floor. Before I knew it, his hands were in the air and he was waving them like he just didn't care!!! He even sang along on the chorus!! (He won't be winning "American Idol" anytime soon.)The one thing that surprised me the most was how he moved amongst the crowd like he was one of us commoners. No entourage. No throng of media. Just one body guard who followed him around all evening.

teresa_wyclef

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January 21, 2009 12:12 PM

My view of the parade

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Ashley Howard

Howard_Marine Saluting Motorcade

howard_car

It was a cold, but spectacular day from the parade route. After leaving my dorm room at 3:03 am and walking the 3.2 miles to the parade route, we arrived at 12th & G Streets shortly before 4am. In the four hours between then and the time the gates opened a not so surprising 55 minutes late the crowd behind us swelled from fifty into the tens of thousands. We got prime spots along the barricade overlooking Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue between 13th & 14th Streets and settled in for the long cold wait.

howard_parade route west

howard_parade route east

The sound of a multitude of cell-phones ringing, would alert the crowd that something was happening. It happened for the first time at 11:00, when CNN showed the motorcade departing from the White House. Minutes later President Bush and President-elect Obama passed by us on their way to the swearing in ceremony. I tucked my phone into my knit cap. I would stay on the phone with my father for the next hour and twelve minutes. He talked us through everything that was happening, I would relay it to the crowd around me. "They've arrived. Cheney's in a wheel chair. They are now seating President Bush... they are playing Hail to the Chief for Bush for the last time... now, the girls are coming out. " A cheer echoed from the National Mall. From the speakers two blocks away, we could hear Michelle be announced. "She's got on a gold dress," I heard my father say. "Ask him who the designer is?" My best friend asked. My dad, Mr. Fashion Clueless, wouldn't have known if it was Vera Wang, Oscar De Larenta, or Isabel Toledo. It was Toledo, we later learned. Then Biden stepped out into the 25 degree air. Soon only Obama was left inside the capital. "Obama looks nervous, he's not smiling," my dad narrated.

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January 21, 2009 10:51 AM

Seen. Heard. Said

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Kevin D. Boze

We all got up to the alarm clock's call at 4:00 am. The train leaves the station at 6:23, but getting five adults showered, dressed, caffeinated and out the door does require a certain degree of orchestration.

Polly, Bookbag, Blueboy, Native Guide and myself find ourselves on the train platform at Monocacy Station, and we are immediately face-to-face with the media. A local television station interviews us about where we're from and why we're here. Polly and I feel every bit of the morning chill (6 degrees F), but our hardy Midwesterners and East Coaster shrug it off as just another day in January. The train shows up and all dire predictions about the trains being overcrowded are utterly unfounded. The train is full, to be sure, but everyone has a seat and we are comfortable.

We arrive at Union Station without incident, and it would appear the incidents have decided to wait until we got there. We have been directed to walk down a street that proves impassable when a man has a medical emergency in the intersection and requires immediate treatment. It apparently hadn't occured to the organizers that emergency vehicles might have to actually negotiate ther way through these crowds. The media reports two million people were in attendance today, a record. If one one-hundredth of one percent of those people encounter a serious health problem such as a heart attack or a seizure, that still adds up to 200 ambulance calls, and the Law of Averages appeared to be in force. There literally wasn't a single moment where we weren't aware of an ambulance trying to go from one place to another, crawling through a sea of humanity as they go.

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January 21, 2009 10:42 AM

Video dispatches from the inauguration

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Nicole Wicks

We started the day off with a 5:30am phone call. "Hurry up! We've got to go! There are lines already!" We were dropped off about a quarter of a mile from the Roosevelt Bridge and made our way to The Mall.

On the metro:

Our goal was to get "lucky" and get as close to the Capital as the Washington Monument. Crossing the bridge we were surprised by the small amount of people crossing. We made our way up Constitution Ave. and before we knew it were at the Washington Monument. People were chanting, singing and surprisingly awake! There was plenty of room to navigate so we decided to get just a bit closer. Turns out we made it halfway in between the Capital and the Washington Monument with a jumbotron right by us and a decent size space.

People from around the world:

Garth Brooks and "Shout!"

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January 21, 2009 8:42 AM

Reflections on ceremony

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

The walk to the ceremony was perhaps more joyous than the ceremony itself. We were part of what my friend, Jenny, described as a tsunami of people walking together through barricaded streets. Even though we had maps, we're visitors to DC and were quite perplexed by the maze that the scattered security detail had put us through.

Still, there was happiness and a shared sense of celebration. The fact that an African American was about to be sworn in as president and an unpopular president whose policies had frustrated so many Americans was about to depart seemed to create a conviviality that could overcome other irritations.

The sight of the magnificent Washington monument brought tears to my eyes. I've seen it many times, but it always impresses me. Today with birds swooping around it in circles it seemed to hold spiritual significance.

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January 20, 2009 2:01 PM

Overview: the good, bad, ugly and popular

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Debra J. Markert


Last night my partner's father suggested that we stay at home on the couch and enjoy the swearing-in from the warm comforts of our pajamas. As tempting as it sounded, we knew we couldn't, so we woke up at 4:30am, left the condo by 5am and were on the lawn by 6am. We'd remain there, in the freezing cold, until after the ceremony.

markert_bundled

A short overview of the day:

The good: We have a new president who gave an amazing speech! The jumbotrons were functional and the speakers were loud and clear, and police were visible and helpful with directions if approached.

The bad: Pedestrian bottlenecking, pedestrian street closures, and Metro station closures. It took us 2.5 hours to wind our way to a functional Metro stop!

The ugly: Desperate times called for desperate measures. As the hours went on people became more and more creative trying to keep warm.

The popular: The crowd responded the loudest to Ted Kennedy, the Clintons, Oprah, and (of course) Obama.

The comparison: I said I was looking forward to hearing both Bishop Robinson and Reverend Warren speak, and I have to say I enjoyed both. I think that Robinson had the potential to appeal to a wider audience since his prayer was more inclusive and neutral, but Warren's message was very inspiring.

The unexpected: I found $20 on the Metro platform.

I'm still frozen and I'm still saddened by some of the bottlenecks-gone-wrong, but overall, I'd jump back out there and do it all over again. What a great experience; areas in the crowd turned into close-knit groups where we all shared stories, food and warmth. For six hours we were a part of history, and a part of a micro-community.

Next up -- the Human Rights Campaign's "Out for Equality" Ball, which starts at 7pm. Congratulations, America and congratulations, President Obama!
markert_crowd4

markert_crowd3

markert_crowd

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January 20, 2009 12:40 PM

Lost in the (mall)

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Teresa Scribner

The big day has finally arrived and my friends and I are sick with excitement. We left the house walking at 7:15 am and actually made it to the mall within 50 minutes. To see that many people walking down the streets like that was amazing. You could definitely feel the sense of unity in the air. But that attitude quickly changed when we arrived at the Mall entrance. After scoring tickets to the nice seating area up front, we walked about 10 blocks only to be told we needed to go back to 14th street because the sections were filling up. My friend was exhausted and upset, but I told her we weren't turning back.

We finally made it to the section for ticket holders, but it was a mess. Silver tickets. Blue tickets. Orange tickets. Go here. Go there. This is closed. Hey, there's Spike Lee!! The line is forming this way!!! It was every man for himself at that point and people were no longer full of peace. They were pushy. Literally. At one point my friend and I got separated and I felt like a kid lost in the mall. (No pun intended). We FINALLY make it past the gate just after 10:30, missing all the musical warm-up performances. Once inside we discovered it was a misplaced Port-A-Potty that was causing the long wait. Who puts the bathrooms in the middle of the walking path?

We made it to our seats just as the Cabinet members took the stage. It was so cold my lips were numb and I couldn't even tell if my nose was running or not. After all that pushing and shoving I still couldn't grasp just how large the crowd was until the pictures came up on the big screen. I was amazed we even made it to Independence Ave.

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January 20, 2009 12:37 PM

On my way home

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

It's 5:48 p.m. Tuesday, January 20. I'm on DC metro heading back to Fairfax. We're swapping stories with other riders and I am finding myself thinking about the view from the streets I had wanted to convey.

I eschewed efforts to score tickets, buy my way into more comfortable seating or attend inaugural balls. I wanted to feel the inauguration like one of the 2 million or 3 million who were just going to show up and be part of the crowd.

So many plans, hopes had to be scrapped. As a reporter, back in the day, I could dip into a crowd and collect quotes, stories from people. Afterwards, I could escape to a desk in a newsroom and file my story of their stories. As one of the people pushing and feeling herded through street after street, there was no time for story. At least, that story. I could only focus on my story and on not stumbling. Literally.

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More from this blog

Recent entries

Jan 21, 09 - 12:24 PM
BET Inaugural Ball

Jan 21, 09 - 12:12 PM
My view of the parade

Jan 21, 09 - 10:51 AM
Seen. Heard. Said

Jan 21, 09 - 10:42 AM
Video dispatches from the inauguration

Jan 21, 09 - 08:42 AM
Reflections on ceremony

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