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Going to the Inauguration? Helpful Tips

If you are going to be among the throngs of folks coming to D.C. to be a part of history yet again, I’m going to help you out.

It’s an exciting time. You won’t forget it. You’ll be telling your grandkids, you’ll be posting pics all over social media, but it can be stressful if you aren’t prepared.

1. Weather-– So four years ago, me and my best friend froze. I mean it was no joke. If you are traveling from other places and you want hand warmers, please buy them where you live and I’ll give you the money when I see you (lol). Basically, this week folks have gone to every store in this region and bought them all up so they can sell them to you suckers for $30 a pop when you get to the inauguration. And you will be desperate if it’s as cold as it was last time and you’ll buy it. There were so many angry fathers who had to calm down their cold wives and kids, and they paid. Oh, they paid.

1A. Clothes. Please wear layers. It’s easier to take stuff off because you are hot, then to freeze and be uncomfortable and mooody. You’ll be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people you want to be as comfortable as possible. Wear a hat. Wear long socks. Wear comfortable shoes you can walk and stand in. Bring blankets. You will be sitting on the ground trying to psyche yourself up until the big event happens.

2. Transportation. First of all. You have to leave early. You have to leave beyond butt crack early if you want to get a decent spot on the National Mall. Me and my bestie left my house, which is a good 20 mins away from dc at 3 a.m. to catch the metro. Don’t drive. You won’t find a spot. Don’t do it. If you already rented a hotel downtown, you are in good shape. Don’t drive. I decided to actually park in the garage at my job (and those fools were actually trying to charge people but I showed them my electric pass that opens the gate and was like don’t even try it with me) and we walked to the nearby metro station.

Metro is going to be bonkers all day. Prepare to wait to get in and out of turnstiles, in and on the trains and even in and out of the station. My suggestion to you is to actually go to stations that are a bit out-of-the-way and just ride in. The chances of you actually getting a seat will be higher. Same situation with leaving. wmata.com here’s a link. Get familiar.

Trying to leave from L’Enfant plaza, Waterfront, or Smithsonian will be a joke. You will have to stand in a line to even enter the station. This is to even enter the station! Me and my bestie are pretty healthy, so we were gangsta about it and basically walked probably for a good two or three miles, all the way to the Navy Yard station, but we still ended up getting on a train before most of those folks waiting at the stations closer to the National Mall.

Oh, don’t even think of waiting to buy a Metro card the day of. Don’t even. If you are in DC now, you better get your Smarttrip right, right now and buy some for your friends and loved ones who may not have arrived yet. It’s going to be a monster.  You’ll be glad you thought ahead. I’m telling you. I can tell you now folks will be folks up at the suburban Metro stations filling their cards and buying cards tomorrow. Which is what happened last time. Folks are just there to avoid the pain on Monday. The last thing you want to be doing on Monday morning is standing in a line trying to add money to your card. Also, have enough for your trip back. Once again, it’s going to be madness trying to get back on the trains. You do not want to spend precious time waiting to put enough money on your card to get you the hell out.

You will see a million charter buses. Please pay attention to every detail of your bus if you want to see it again and end up in the right place.

3. Health. Please hydrate. Hydrate slowly. But if you hydrate, you are going to have to pee. All of the major Smithsonian museums will be open so people can pee, sit down to rest their aching feet and keep warm. Take advantage of it. There will be a lot of people in these places, but you need to be patient. Bring snacks so you won’t be grumpy. There’s a lot of waiting going on before the ceremony starts. Some folks brought board games and books. It’s not a bad idea, just don’t get carried away, you don’t want to bog yourself down with a lot of extra crap.

4. Security– Security is everywhere. They aren’t playing. Keep things simple and pack light. Ladies, bring a simple bag that can hold water, some fruit, nuts and just the essentials. You don’t want to be weighed down. You will be tired enough.

5. Traffic— Traffic is going to suck take the metro. The metro is going to suck, so walk as far as you possibly can.

6. Be patient. Be in a good mood. What struck me the most about the first inauguration was how folks were so kind to one another, paying close attention to helping the handicapped and the elderly. Don’t complain. Everyone else is experiencing what you are too. So if you are cold, or hungry or have to pee, so does everyone else, and you droning on and on will make people even more annoyed. Some will even tell you so.  So please, in the words of Kendrick Lamar, “Bitch don’t kill my vibe.” Don’t bring a stank attitude and if you can’t stand this president, don’t show up popping off on some nonsense. Speaking of when people didn’t like Bush the second, I remember going to a dinner with a boyfriend inauguration night and seeing the president’s limo pass and people throwing tomatoes at it. Remembering that makes me feel a bit worried about how angry folks may react to Obama this time around.

7. Just because an email you got called their party an inaugural ball or gala, don’t expect the Obamas to run through it. There are a gazillion parties, and even about 13 official ones that the President will attend and if you just bought a ticket today, he won’t be at that one. I’m pretty sure.

8. Get your hustle on. There will be so many people selling cool stuff, and stuff that is so ghetto, you know they made it with photoshop and paper mache and plastic lanyards– but hey I don’t hate. Gotta hustle.  Have cash on you so you can support the great entrepreneurs and get yourself a piece of history to bring home.

9. Keep it sober. I recommend highly that even though it’s cold, leave the firewater at home. Once again security is not playing with people, and I really don’t recall seeing any drunk folks at 9 a.m. You have to be dedicated to drinking to do that, considering you have to get up at 3 a.m. to even make your way out there. Oh yeah. If you aren’t at least at Union Station by 6 a.m., just give up, turn around and watch it on t.v. You already lost one. You won’t get anywhere close to the action if you think you can show up even at 6:30 or 7 or 8. a.m. because you’ve lost before you could even get started.

10. If you want to go to a D.C. brunch on Sunday, go to breakfast. Like at 7 or 8 a.m. because Sunday brunch at the popular spots are hell on regular weekends. You won’t see no parts of a mimosa or the inside of the place if you and your party show up this weekend after 10 a.m. You’ll be short. Just saying. D.C. people brunch and they brunch hard.

For all things official, please see the Senate’s website. http://www.inaugural.senate.gov/

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4 thoughts on “Going to the Inauguration? Helpful Tips

  1. Great list and tips. I was in DC during the inauguration of Bush Sr (1989) and it was insane. I started typing that I was in DC FOR Bush’s inaugural, but I cannot even begin to tell you how many ways that was wrong.

    If I was to offer another tip, it would be to check out the “alternative inaugural balls” that they are advertising on the cardboard signs at Union Station. Now granted, that was a completely different administration and the alternative celebrations were making fun of the decadence of the GOP’s party, but it was a pretty fun gig. Maybe it’s not as big a deal with a President of the people, but if they’re around (and cheap or free) they’re worth checking out.

    I spent most of the day at home that day anyway. Too much crazy for my liking.
    Have fun!

    • Thank you, thank you! There were tons of events going on like the ones you mentioned. I actually ended up throwing a small gathering at the last minute Sunday night. We had a ball.

  2. This is my first time in and around DC to be able to witness this, but by the sound of it I would much rather make brunch at home and get a nice comfy spot in front of the TV! These are great tips, though.

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