Yesterday I discovered that participating in inauguration events is time consuming and difficult, but worthwhile. Both the afternoon We Are One opening concert on the west steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the evening Latino Inaugural Gala at Union Station needed to be punched on my ticket for the day. And it went like this.
After a nice post-brunch walk through the Penn Quarter, getting into the We Are One concert was remarkably easy. We asked the concert volunteers for advice and they directed us to the better security line. My neighbors and I, a small group of us, split up because we felt confident that the security lines would move swiftly and we were rewarded with decent seats in front of the Lincoln Memorial by a Jumbotron. Less difficult than imagined, it only took us 40 minutes to get through the line. Although we had to wait two hours for the concert to start at 2:30 pm, it was generally a pleasant experience. The real reason for attending a concert like this is the electricity of the crowd and they took in the concert with gusto despite the cold outdoor temperatures. Not to mention the star studded line up.
Leaving the venue was a different experience. With 400,000 plus people heading toward the downtown area, leaving the National Mall was a difficult task and it made me concerned about the Tuesday inaugural events when Pennsylvania Avenue will no longer be an option for people on the Mall to use as an exit. If you're coming to the parade or the inauguration ceremony, arrive supplied with plenty of patience.
In the evening, the Latino Inaugural Gala at Union Station also had its high points and low points. Not so great were the long line to get in where all the women were left freezing out in the cold and the paucity of cabs when the event finished at 12:30 am made worse by public transportation being closed. I walked home. People the whole route home were begging cabs to take them as fares and begging strangers to share cabs too.
The celebrity sighting was great fun and what a line up there was to spy. Edward James Olmos, George Lopez, Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and many, many others attended. Marc Anthony and other performers like Alejandro Sanz and Paulina Rubio fully committed to their performances. The trick was enduring the overlong speeches by politicians and sponsors and the extended mariachi set. The reward? Great music.
Today, I'm rubbing my feet to make them feel better and looking forward to the next inaugural event on the schedule tomorrow - the swearing in. I'll need to leave early to make sure I get through security in time. But not too early. Did I mention that it's walking distance from my place? Don't tell my feet.
Originally published by Penn Quarter Living, downtown Washington DC's denizens providing on-the-ground inauguration coverage.