Inauguration Weekend: Simplified

Posted January 14, 2009 at 6:06pm

As President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration quickly approaches, security officials continue to release dozens of advisories, recommendations and updates. So that you don’t have to read them all, here’s a brief version with all the essentials.

Opening Celebration at Lincoln Memorial: Sunday, Jan. 18

• Entrances open at 8 a.m. The show starts at 2:30 p.m.

• Don’t bring bicycles, pets, coolers, backpacks or large bags, aerosol cans, thermal or glass containers, supports for signs or laser pointers.

• If driving, park at RFK Stadium and take a shuttle bus from Lot 8. It would be best not to drive at all, however, because road closures are rampant and the Memorial and Theodore Roosevelt bridges will be closed.

• If walking, arrive through one of these entrances: Constitution Avenue at 19th Street, Constitution Avenue at Virginia Avenue, 17th Street at North Elm Walk, 17th Street at South Elm Walk or Independence Avenue at the D.C. War Memorial.

• If taking the Metro, get off at the Farragut North or Metro Center stops on the red line; Farragut West, Federal Center or Smithsonian stops on the blue or orange lines; and L’Enfant Plaza or Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter stops on the yellow or green lines.

Bottom Line: Ditch the car, walk or take the Metro, and arrive early.

Getting to the Big Event: Tuesday, Jan. 20

• If coming from Virginia, you can walk or bike across any bridge. Bikes can be parked between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. through free valet services on the south side of the Jefferson Memorial and on 16th Street Northwest between I and K streets.

• Metro stations will open at 4 a.m. Tuesday and close at 2 a.m. Wednesday.

• Don’t make Metro transfers — the crowds will make it difficult and Metro is discouraging it. If you live on the red line, get off at Union Station. Orange and blue liners should disembark at the Capitol South stop. And those on the yellow and green line should plan to make the hike from the L’Enfant Plaza or Gallery Place-Chinatown stops.

• From 4 a.m. to about 6:30 p.m., the Smithsonian and the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter stops will be closed.

• At 7:30 a.m., the Mt. Vernon Square/Seventh Street-Convention Center station will close.

• Starting at 4 p.m., Judiciary Square station will close.

Bottom Line: Walk if you can. If you must take the Metro, don’t transfer.

The Big Event Itself: Tuesday, Jan. 20

• If going to the parade or swearing-in, don’t bring umbrellas, coolers, thermoses, alcohol, strollers, pets, backpacks or large bags or laser pointers.

• The public will be allowed on the parade route starting at 7 a.m. Enter from the north of Pennsylvania Avenue; the only entrances from the south are 14th or 12th streets Northwest at Constitution Avenue.

• If just going to the National Mall, only alcohol and glass bottles are prohibited. But beware: The rules could change.

• Approach the Mall from the south, if possible. A fence around the Capitol and a security border around the parade route make coming from the north or east more difficult.

• Jumbotrons will be set up along the entire length of the Mall, including next to the Lincoln Memorial, but not along the parade route.

• Eat a big breakfast. Food will be hard to come by, and only “small snacks” are allowed on Capitol grounds.

• Dress in layers. Weather predictions put the temperature in the mid-30s with a chance of snow.

Bottom Line: Pack light. Eat before heading out. And plan your route.

Sources: Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Presidential Inaugural Committee, Secret Service,