Capital Viewing

Posted January 16, 2009 at 4:07pm

With near-freezing temperatures expected, the hottest tickets for Tuesday’s inauguration parade are not necessarily right along Pennsylvania Avenue, but within the countless square feet of offices and restaurants above and behind the District of Columbia’s most famous thoroughfare.

“We’re fortunate to have a great view of the parade route,” said Charles Coté, a spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association. “I know people are looking forward to an opportunity to see history.”

Coté’s group, which represents prescription drug benefit overseers, occupies a plum seventh-floor spot near Marshall Park, toward the beginning of the parade route.

The PCMA is expecting roughly 300 people to attend the event, which Coté described as “fairly low key.” The organization’s digs also boast a balcony so “you’ll be able to go out and brave the weather a bit,” Coté said.

“We didn’t want to have anything too extravagant,” he said. “It’s more of an opportunity to just share our location with folks. It’s certainly not going to be anything on a grand scale by any stretch of the imagination.”

One block west, the Advanced Medical Technology Association confirmed that the group, too, is expecting “north of 300” attendees at its 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW location.

The trade group has spent the past few days “cleaning offices to make way for our guests” and is billing itself as a kid-friendly fete.

“This is family event,” spokeswoman Wanda Moebius said. “No clown, but we definitely have kid activities planned.”

The National Association of Manufacturers, which overlooks Freedom Plaza at 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, planned a full weekend of activities for its members. The organization promised “good fellowship, good food and a good view,” spokeswoman Laura Narvaiz said.

NAM is expecting “a couple hundred people,” and although its offices do not have a balcony overlooking the parade route, Narvaiz joked “we have bathrooms and heat.”

“Just good, solid, down-home patriotic fun,” she added.

For some shops that have offices elsewhere downtown, Barack Obama’s inauguration apparently was too difficult to pass up. The law firm of Holland & Knight, whose offices are a bit westward in Foggy Bottom, rented out a restaurant — Chef Geoff’s at 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — to entertain clients.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, which normally operates out of its downtown Farragut Square offices, rented out the Occidental Restaurant at 1475 Pennsylvania Ave. NW for today’s festivities and was planning to erect a tent on its terrace for 100 or so guests.

“For our issues, to get somebody in [the White House] that not just knows what a podcast is, but used it to announce his net-neutrality policy …” spokeswoman Heather Greenfield said. “The things we care about, he’s already spoken to on his campaign.”

MCapitol Management, too, secured a choice parade route location today, renting out the Capital Grille.

“It’s a celebratory day to take time to relax and really soak it in,” firm executive Patrick Murphy said.

Along with the PCMA, some groups with offices along the parade route confirmed that the slumping economy means they are not going to try to overdo it on the party-favor front.

The Air Transport Association of America, which is expecting more than 100 visitors to its offices at 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, described its event as “modest.”

“We have an ailing economy, we have an industry that’s trying to recover … what we have to offer here is a wonderful view of the parade route on the two floors that we occupy,” spokesman David Castelveter said.

“Naturally, we’re going to provide beverage and refreshment, but by no stretch of the imagination will we have a gala event,” he added.

Anna Palmer contributed to this report.