The official blog of the 2009 inauguration in Washington DC through the eyes of Andrew Spear, Kristin Majcher, and Johnny Simon. 

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Sunday, January 18, 2009


So today there were tons more people at the National Mall than yesterday, and I can only imagine what it's going to be like by Tuesday. Estimates say that over 300,000 people showed up, and this could mean that more than the projected 2 million will show up for the inauguration day itself. At this level there would be about 400 porta-potties per person. Let's just hope that's enough to keep everyone satisfied.

Yesterday the temperature didn't even get out of the teens, but today it was almost 40 degrees. People didn't seem to mind the cold, and if anything, used it as a way to show off their new Obama hats and scarves at the kick-off event for the Today was the big "We are One" concert outside of the Lincoln Memorial, with the likes of U2, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Beyoncé singing songs inspired by our country. It was really cool to hear Springsteen joined the 89-year-old Pete Seeger in a rendition of "This Land is Your Land" with a gospel choir backing them. Obama addressed the crowd briefly, reassuring them that despite the economic turmoil the country is experiencing now will eventually be lifted, even if it does take a while.

Even on the other side of the Washington Monument where there was only a faint hint of sound from the concert, people were still crowded together, dancing and singing along. People watched Obama on Jumbo Trons out on the lawn, and even if they couldn't see the action up close (most couldn't) they were still rocking out. We've seen pick-up soccer games and runners going about their business as usual, mixed in with the news outlets setting up their makeshift studios and carving out their turf. Basically, this is a circus. But it's really kind of refreshing, to see the media interacting with REAL people in the same space. Maybe it could happen more often? At any rate, I got the chance to see women flinging themselves at Anderson Cooper next to a homeless man leaning on his shopping cart, which I'm sure never made it on CNN.

Although there are a lot of people who are unsure of whether or not Obama will bring about change, almost nobody that we've seen in the capitol has outwardly expressed opposition to the new administration. This is a stark contrast from the Counter Inauguration of 2005, when Bush was starting his second term. The only people that we have seen who were doing any sort of protest were some guys on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue somewhere, with big signs that said "Homo Love is Sin" and "Trust Jesus." But people seemed to be more drawn to the tent of Obama merchandise than trying to heckle the protesters, who really didn't have anything interesting to say anyway.

Although there are no big protests or anything going on (yet, anyway) there is still a pretty big police presence in general. But maybe that's just because we're in D.C., and there's kind of a lot of important things to protect here. Seeing snipers on the top of buildings is kind of surreal but for the people here, it's probably second-nature.
So what are people saying about Obama? I've overheard:

"He's the light at the end of the tunnel"
"To see this is such a privilege"
'He's MY president"
"I wouldn't be standing here out in the cold if it weren't for Barack Obama"
"If you can pay five dollars for a footlong, you can pay five dollars for an Obama pin"
"I love everything about him"

You get the picture.

After the festivities everyone scattered to go home, clogging up the subways. I'm sure the people trying to beat crowds by walking down the upwards escalators is only a hint of what's to come on the public transit system in the next few days, which up until now have been relatively quiet.

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we'll be out reporting even more. Hopefully then I'll be a bit less tired. More tomorrow.

--- Kristin

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Andrew Spear

Andrew Spear
Andrew Spear is a Midwest-based photographer currently studying photojournalism at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication. A junior in the program, Andrew is also a staff photographer at The Athens NEWS, in Athens, Ohio. He splits his time between Athens and Cleveland, his hometown. Please click the image to view Andrew's portfolio. (Photo courtesy of Matt Eich)

Kristin Majcher

Kristin Majcher
Kristin Majcher is a junior studying magazine journalism at Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Communication. Currently a staff writer at The Athens NEWS, she has also worked with The Post (Athens, Ohio) and Cleveland Magazine. She splits her time between Athens and her hometown of Cleveland.

Johnny Simon

Johnny Simon
Johnny Simon is a Midwest-based photographer currently enrolled as a senior photojournalism major at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. His work has been regcognized by the Southern Short Course in News Photography, NoTxt Magazine, the Corcoran Gallery FOCUS on Photojournalism and his adoring parents. Please click the image to see Johnny's portfolio.
All content © 2009 Andrew Spear, Kristin Majcher, Johnny Simon, and The Athens NEWS.

No reproduction without permission of the authors under penalty of law.