Attendence expected to be lower at Obama's second inauguration
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2013 00:01
The themes of hope and change that drew nearly two million attendees to President Obama’s 2009 inauguration have failed to bring in the same numbers for Obama’s second time around.
In the first week of the new year, the Washington D.C. Transportation and Tourism Department announced that they expected the turnout to be just 600,000-800,000 visitors to watch on the National Mall.
It’s anticipated that this low expected rate of attendance will affect many of the events D.C. had planned for the inauguration, being held on the MLK holiday.
Several factors have attributed to the low number of ticket sales, including the recent fiscal cliff crisis and the impending debt ceiling. The fiscal cliff detracted attention from the positive aspects of the inauguration and instead turned attention to the negative aspects of Washington.
Due to the low numbers of visitors, hotels that had hoped to sell out, such as the Hay-Adams, which is located across the street from the White House, are having much more trouble than four years ago.
The Hay-Adams General Manager Hans Bruland told The Wall Street Journal, “We have to recognize that 2008 going into 2009 was unusual because there was so much euphoria and so much demand. Now...the demand is not there. There is a lack of interest and not as much activity.”
In addition to hotels, the 2009 inauguration led to many D.C. residents even renting out their homes to visitors. However, this year, that service is no longer needed.
While most Presidents’ second inaugurations are less popular, that does not mean that they don’t happen. Many D.C. officials hoped that having the inauguration on MLK Jr. this year would allow for more visitors to come, as it is a federal holiday.
However, the 20th Amendment states the President must be sworn in on Jan. 20, but this year Jan. 20 falls on a Sunday, which delays the inaugural parade as courts are closed.
The President will be privately sworn in on Jan. 20, but the inaugural parade and public swearing in will be held on Jan. 21, which is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Despite nearly half the attendance of four years ago, the amount of visitors expected in D.C. this weekend places President Obama’s second inauguration as the third highest inaugural attendance, tied with Lyndon Johnson’s 1965 celebration.
President Obama’s 2009 inauguration is the highest ever number of inaugural attendees on the National Mall.
Although ticket sales have been low, the Presidential Inaugural Committee has said that many events will still continue, but be downscaled.
Unlike in 2009, where the President and First Lady went to 10 official balls, this year they will only attend two, almost as a nod to the tough economic times and near bungled fiscal cliff.
The two official balls are the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball, which is held for 4,000 servicemen and women and families of deployed soldiers. The other will be held at the Washington Convention Center with room to hold all other visitors celebrating the President’s inauguration.
Many performers will be on hand for the Inaugural Parade, including Beyoncé who will be performing the National Anthem. Others will include Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Usher and John Legend.
Prior to the Inaugural Parade, Saturday Jan. 19 will be a National Day of Service to commemorate the service of not only Martin Luther King Jr., but also the men and women who serve overseas.
This National Day of Service will focus on seven issues: faith, education, the environment, honoring our veterans and military families, community resilience and economic developments. The Presidential Inaugural Committee has announced that residents from all 50 states will be on hand for this event.
This years’ inauguration may not carry the same excitement or enthusiasm as that of 2009. However, for those that are going, including the SMU journalism reporters, are thrilled to be there for this once in a lifetime experience.