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Tips for Taking In the Inauguration — Or Avoiding It

5 things locals can do to prepare

Zara Kelsey holds on to friend Annliese McCauley during President Barack Obama’s second inauguration on the National Mall in 2013. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Zara Kelsey holds on to friend Annliese McCauley during President Barack Obama’s second inauguration on the National Mall in 2013. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While most of the world will be watching from afar, the nation’s capital will be packed with visitors on Friday when Donald Trump is sworn in as the nation’s 45th president. 

Whether you’re attending the ceremony, going to an inauguration ball or just live in Washington, here are some tips to get you through the day.

[Inauguration Balls, Parties and Galas in D.C.]

1. Follow the rules

The city has been planning for some time to ensure it goes smoothly and safely. On Jan. 5, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies released a map explaining entry locations for various levels of ticket holders and street closings around the National Mall, the Capitol, the White House and the parade route.

The House sergeant-at-arms also released information on Friday to encourage riding the Metro instead of driving.

All streets in the vicinity of the Capitol will be closed to unauthorized traffic beginning around 11 p.m. on Thursday, the release said. But, if you take the Metro, expect packed cars and platforms. If you opt for ride-hailing services such as Uber or Lyft, expect surge pricing and a slow crawl.

[Inauguration Tickets and Map Revealed]

2. Take it all in

Regardless of how you feel about the incoming president, Friday is for the history books. If you don’t want to stand outside for the ceremony, you can still have fun that day. Plenty of restaurants will open up for specials before it kicks off.

Mission in Dupont Circle is open for brunch at 11 a.m. and will have TVs playing the ceremony. On the Hill, 201 Bar opens at 11:30 a.m. for $5 drink specials and Union Pub opens at 10:30 a.m. for live music, freebies and specials including $15 buckets of Old Style Beer, a Chicago favorite. Cruise vessels the Odyssey and the Spirit of Washington will take you out to watch from the Potomac.

If you don’t have work, get together with friends and go to a local spot.

3. Dress appropriately

There’s good news and bad news in the weather forecast — it won’t be freezing, but rain is predicted. Bring out your raincoat and wear comfortable shoes. You don’t want to be that girl in a crowded Metro who loses her shoe — sneakers are strongly encouraged.

If you’re going to a gala Friday night, allow extra time to go home instead of trying to look nice all day. (You’re not going to look nice all day.)

[Word on the Hill: Inauguration Week]

4. Don’t carry around anything questionable

Whether you’re going to the inauguration, watching on television at a nearby bar, or going to a related event, be careful what you have on you.

Leave anything that you wouldn’t be able to carry on an airplane at home.

For the Thursday afternoon welcome concert at the Lincoln Memorial, items like balloons, glass and metal containers, selfie sticks and supports for signs and placards are all prohibited, as well as other things you would expect.

[Here Are the Democrats Skipping Trump’s Inauguration]

5. If you’re not interested, stay out of the way

A ton of companies around D.C. are letting their employees work from home on Friday and you should take advantage of that if you’re not trying to watch the inauguration.

And, if you get the urge to see it last minute, there’s always the television and the internet.

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