If you haven’t read the previous post, TV reporter Carolyn Presutti’s account of Inauguration Day on the National Mall, you should. Then you can come back here, where I’ll share a few bits of trivia about the day.
Here’s one: Obama has actually taken the oath of office four times, which hasn’t happened since FDR, who took the oath for four different terms. In 2009 when Obama was sworn in, Chief Justice John Roberts administered the presidential oath from memory, and he flubbed a word, so the oath was re-done in a private ceremony the day after Inauguration Day. This year, Obama took the oath in a private ceremony on Sunday, January 20, because by law, the president is sworn in on that date. He took it again in public on Monday the 21st
Despite changes made to the floats in the inaugural parade this year to make them shorter and turn more easily, the parade ran long and didn’t finish until after sunset.
There were only two official inaugural balls this year, as opposed to 10 in 2009, in a nod to the poor economy. Both of the events were held in the Washington, D.C. Convention Center — a six-square-block building that hosted some 40,000 guests at those two parties — a big one for civilians, a smaller one for members of the military.
Inaugural balls aren’t always as glamorous as one might imagine. The civilian party was held in the cavernous, concrete basement of the convention center, and with 35,000 guests, partygoers were shoulder-to-shoulder. The bar was a cash bar serving beer and sparkling wine, and the eats were limited — peanuts, pretzels, and Cheez-its on paper plates. The Obamas made an appearance, of course. According to one news wire, they entered at 9:22 pm and stayed exactly five minutes — long enough for that gorgeous dance to “Let’s Stay Together” sung by Jennifer Hudson.
This is not to burst your bubble — just to reeassure you that if you missed the inaugural ball, you may not have missed the party of your life, after all.
By all reports, however, none of these things dampened the guests’ experience TOO much. Drinks were drunk, camaraderie was had, and by golly Mr. Obama started another term as president.