Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm going on a picnic and I am bringing a whole bunch of stuff that won't get through security(Aaron McKinney)

Wow, where do I begin? Today was the big day, I-day, or O-day, however you want to look at it. This morning started at 3:30 with an outside temperature of 26 degrees and a windchill factor that made your toes curl. We layered clothes upon clothes and set out for the METRO to catch one of the first trains towards the national mall and parade route. The first train was full to the brim and I began to worry that our morning would start with a long walk to the capitol. Fortunately the next train had space for us all and we were on our way to our inaugural experience. I knew it would be cold while we waited to get into the secure zone of the city but I had no clue what we were really in for. 
Around 6:30 or 7:00 we lost our first group members, and to a degree, I don't blame them. At times I truly believed my toes would snap off and my fingers would stop moving, but I refused to be this close to history and not witness it in person. I cannot explain in words what it was like to wait in line to get into the parade route area, or the masses of people present. Pictures might do the experience justice, but I seriously doubt it. Street after street was closed off and there were police, sheriffs, secret servicemen, and FBI agents everywhere. We couldn't take in any bags larger than your basic romantic novel or any liquids of any sort. That meant that all six of the water bottles I was carrying got thrown into the dumpster, and then we got a quick pat-down from TSA officers. After waiting in line for close to four hours we were inside the gateand our search for the perfect Obama viewing seat began. 
We decided to post up and set up shop at the corner of Constitution, and Pennsylvania where we could see both the capitol building, and the parade route. This is when the cold really set in. We sat down on the cold concrete which quickly drained any and all body warmth we had built up since the security check point. Erin P and I went for coffee or other hot beverages and the best we could come up with was hot soup. Everyone relished in this hot treat, (except Bryant because they don't have chicken finger flavored soup), and suddenly people were feeling a little more optimistic about hearing the inaugural address. 
Some forward thinking by some of the members of our group had produced a small FM radio with small speakers that we used to broadcast NPR's coverage of the inauguration right there on the side of the street. This was invaluable because we could not hear what was being said over the loud speakers on the mall. We huddled together in a circle for warmth and listened to the address on the small radio which was very popular amongst those around us as well. The address was shorter than expected, but definitely struck a cord. Im sure you heard it yourself so I won't bore you with the details, and after the address we settled in for a long wait to see the parade. Ted Kennedy had a seizure during the congressional luncheon, which set the parade behind, also spawning an impromptu dance party amongst our group using the speakers and various Ipods. We kept warm listening to the oldies and dancing like fools, but hey, the cops seemed to love it, and I think Jules and Autumn may have even got some digits. 

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