Long lines of people wait in the pre-dawn hours at the Capitol on Monday, to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- Thousands began gathering in the dark, chilly pre-dawn
hours at the Capitol Monday, part of the 500,000 to 700,000 expected
to flood into the city for President Obama's inaugural address and the
festivities surrounding it.
They filled street corners and stood
in long snaking lines all around the Capitol and surrounding
neighborhoods. Just blocks from where Obama will be inaugurated, people
were shuffling down streets snapping photos before sunrise. Many wore
long coats, hats, scarfs, ear muffs and sequined Obama hats.
Davis, 36, of Columbus, Ohio, woke at 4 a.m. determined to get as close
as she could to the festivities without an official ticket. She watched
the last inauguration at home, but decided this time, she had to be
Davis traveled from a family member's home in Capitol
Heights, Md., parked at the Metro and took a long train ride into the
city. "I just want to be part of history," Davis said. "I want this to
be something I can tell my kids and grandkids."
down 3rd Street at 6:30 a.m., Davis said she was happy to brush
shoulders with other people. She's ready for a long day and has supplies
to prove it.
"We ate before we left, I took my vitamins, and I
got my bottle of water," she said. "I'm just excited. These are
experiences that last forever."
"What the Inauguration reminds us
of is the role we have as fellow citizens in promoting a common good
even as we carry out our individual responsibilities," Obama told
supporters during a reception Sunday. "The sense that there's something
larger than ourselves that gives shape and meaning to our lives."
Obamas were scheduled to attend an 8:45 a.m. service at St. John's
Episcopal Church, with the ceremonial swearing-in at the Capitol
scheduled for 11:45 and Obama's inaugural address set for 11:50.
7 am, the Metro station closest to the Capitol building looked and
sounded like a baseball stadium. Crowds flocked from trains and up the
escalators, where they were greeted by vendors selling pins and posters
while volunteers carrying "ask me" signs offered directions and
Vendors set up folding tables for several blocks along
Pennsylvania Avenue behind the Capitol, selling trinkets ranging from
Obama pins and T-shirts to knit caps embroidered "Obama: Back 2 Back"
"Good morning, welcome to the inauguration!" a pair of volunteers sang out to the crowd.
Thomas, a lawyer and consultant from Atlanta, was on an Orange line
Metro train headed to inauguration festivities by 6:15 a.m. She came to
Obama's inauguration four years ago.
"This is very rewarding for
me," said Thomas, armed with an Obama blanket and a small backpack with
food. "It's just excellent. He's the best president."
of Floyd, Iowa, was also on a Metro train by 6:15. She voted for Obama
twice and managed to snag a ticket to his second inauguration. "This
is an experience of a lifetime for me to be right here, right now," said
Johnson, president of the National Corn Growers Association. "When I
found out the opportunity to go, I didn't want to miss it."
Johnson said she's especially excited to go to the Agriculture Ball tonight. "People call it the farm prom," she says.
Kannam, 8, came with his mom, dad and older sister. It's Thomas' first
inaguration. "I want to see the president," he said, holding tightly to
a blanket wrapped around his shoulders for warmth.
family, from Durham, Conn., was on its way to the national prayer
service before attending the Inaugural Parade. They got tickets through a
friend who worked on Obama's campaign.
The New York African
American Chamber of Commerce sent two buses with 56 people on each,
according to Raquel Sanchez, 41, of New York. They arrived at about 5:45
a.m. Some were unable to put partisan politics aside.
"I hate the
divide in the House and in Congress," said Stephanie Simmons, 59.
Obama has struggled because Republicans won't work with him, Simmons
said, which she said may also be "a black-white thing" beyond just
regular partisan differences.
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