Obama and the rest of DC are gearing up for his inauguration on January 21. This time around, when President Barack Obama takes the oath of office, there will be a marked difference in turnout. It will be a much smaller affair, with officials estimating that attendance will be fewer by half, reports Fox News.
The first time around, some 1.8 million people packed onto the National Mall to see the first black President of the United States being sworn in. Now, hotel occupancy is weak compared to 2009, when you could not find an empty hotel room for miles. The special hotel packages aren’t being booked like before, Kate Gibbs, spokeswoman for Destination D.C., a nonprofit corporation that promotes D.C. travel and tourism, told Washington Whispers blog in US News And World Report. Back in 2009, hotel occupancy was 98 percent with guests paying more than $600 that night, according to hotel tracking firm STR, reports Fox News.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is also expecting less congestion with 800,000 fewer people using the rails, compared with 1.54 million users in 2009.
There are fewer official events as well. There will be only two official balls, versus six in 2009. The Inaugural Ball is expected to draw more than 35,000 people at the Washington Convention Center. The Commander In Chief’s Ball, which honors U.S. troops, has actually doubled in size from 2009 and will host about 4,000 participants at the convention hall. The events will, of course be star-studded — performers include Katy Perry, Smokey Robinson, Usher, Alicia Keys, and Brad Paisley. Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor will perform at Obama’s signing ceremony.
Separately but equally interesting, President Obama will use two bibles for this swearing in, reports The Root. One of the bibles was used during the first inauguration in 2009, and was also used by Abraham Lincoln at his first inauguration. The second bible will be one used by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., according to a news release from the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
“On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, this historic moment is a reflection of the extraordinary progress we’ve made as a nation,” Steve Kerrigan, president and CEO of the committee, said in the release.
The MLK bible was actually Dr.King’s “traveling bible.” According to The Root, Dr. King’s children announced, “We know our father would be deeply moved to see President Obama take the Oath of Office using his bible. His ‘traveling bible’ inspired him as he fought for freedom, justice and equality, and we hope it can be a source of strength for the President as he begins his second term.”
In a private swearing-in ceremony at the White House on Jan. 20, the President will use a bible from the First Lady’s family. “The Robinson Family Bible was selected specifically for the occasion. The bible was a gift from the First Lady’s father, Fraser Robinson III, to his mother, LaVaughn Delores Robinson on Mother’s Day in 1958,” writes The Root. “Mrs. Robinson was the first African-American woman manager of a Moody Bible Institute’s bookstore and she used the Bible regularly.”
Will you be there? MadameNoire recently reported on nine reasons to attend.