- Title: USA: Washington prepares for Barack Obama's second inauguration
- Date: 17th January 2013
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C. UNITED STATES (JANUARY 13, 2013) (REUTERS) STAND-IN FOR PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA WALKING TO MOCK SWEARING IN CEREMONY PEOPLE DURING MOCK SWEAR-IN CEREMONY BARACK AND MICHELLE OBAMA STAND-INS DURING MOCK SWEAR-IN MILITARY MEMBERS MARCHING U.S. ARMY BAND DURING PRACTICE MARCH U.S. ARMY BAND DURING REHEARSAL
- Embargoed: 1st February 2013 12:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVABC0I6Y98MCWM769GOGOUM0ZUM
- Story Text: The inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama to a second term is just days away and Washington is abuzz with final preparations for the event.
Construction of the inaugural platform on the West Front of the Capitol which began three months ago has been completed, just in time for the first dress rehearsal of the ceremony.
The rehearsal of the swearing-in ceremonies on the West Front of the Capitol included two stand-ins for Obama and his wife Michelle who were wearing signs reading "The President" and "The First Lady" on cardboard placards around their necks. Following the mock swear-in, the would-be "president" reviewed the troops standing at attention as a military band performed a rousting musical march. Then, the proceedings moved down Pennsylvania Avenue for a dry run of the inauguration parade.
Pennsylvania Avenue is Washington's major thoroughfare and it will be closed during the inauguration festivities, as well as dozens of surrounding streets, road, tunnels and bridges. Many Washington -- especially the taxicab drivers -- are grumbling about the inconvenience.
Taxicab driver Jadesse remembers the problems he had four years ago when area residents had to drive to a highway more than ten miles (16 km) out of the way from Washington, D.C. to get their home which was ordinarily only minutes away.
"The closure of particularly the tunnels, people had to go in order to get to their homes--, they had to go through the Beltway and I don't think it's good," Jadesse said.
Virginia resident Sonny Masso said he appreciates the democratic tradition of the inauguration and that makes the aggravation of road closures and congestion less troublesome.
"It's a celebration of America and the democratic process and whatever pains occur with that are part of something that needs to happen so I just let it go."
Residents have been advised to use public transportation to get to and from the inauguration events. Arlington, Virginia resident Deborah Sliz said that's what she plans to do.
"We metro in and metro out but I think it's just a question of how much crowd can we take," Sliz said.
The crowds are expected to be far fewer this inauguration compared with those attending Obama's first inauguration in 2009. A record 1.8 million visitors flooded the city to see Obama take the oath of office the first time.
This year, the Washington Chamber of Commerce predicts 600,000 to 800,000 people will attend the event.
As a result, some luxury hotel rooms and coveted tables at high-end restaurants are still available days before the inauguration.
The swanky Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with its sweeping views of the National Mall, initially required inauguration guests to make reservations for four nights. Now it has relaxed that requirement to three nights.
"Pace is a little bit down compared to last time. We are having to respond to market conditions. You know things are a little bit different this time, having to negotiate a little bit more, but we're confident we're going to get close to sold out," said Jon Chocklett, the director of sales and marketing at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington.
But the "inauguration markup" still applies: The Mandarin's least expensive room, normally available for $295 a night, starts at $1,195 a night during the long inauguration weekend and the 3500-square foot (325 square meters) Presidential Suite, the largest in Washington, D.C., still requires the four-nght minimum and costs 15,000 dollars a night.
Andy Gallagher, the general manager of White House Gifts, a store which specializes in presidential pins, buttons, mugs, tee-shirts and other tsotchkes, said that in 2009 his store was overflowing with customers.
"It was just beyond anyone's expectation on just how big that was." Gallagher said. "This time it is still going to be quite an event, but it's nothing like the first time."
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Audio restrictions: This clip's Audio includes copyrighted material. User is responsible for obtaining additional clearances before publishing the audio contained in this clip.