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The More Inaugurations Change, the More They Stay the Same

Even the ‘Champagne’ will be the same

The media camped out in the Rotunda and watched President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech on monitors as they wait for the President to arrive for the luncheon in Statuary Hall on Jan. 21, 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The media camped out in the Rotunda and watched President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech on monitors as they wait for the President to arrive for the luncheon in Statuary Hall on Jan. 21, 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Charlie Brotman won’t be announcing the inauguration parade for the first time since President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Jackie Evancho will be performing the national anthem instead of Beyonce. 

But the logistics of the scene in Washington on Friday when President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office might be more like past years than would meet the eye.

Demand for tickets was not expected to be as high as in 2009 for the first inauguration of President Barack Obama, but the parade map and seating on the West Front of the Capitol looks familiar.

Republican aides say that even with the ever-growing number of House Democrats saying they won’t attend the inauguration, there’s a certain sense of normalcy in the way the pageantry of the transition of power is coming about.

Trump will take the oath of office from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., with a family Bible, as well as the same one used twice by Obama — the Lincoln Bible.

“In his first inaugural address, President [Abraham] Lincoln appealed to the ‘better angels of our nature,’” Presidential Inaugural Committee Chairman Tom Barrack said in a statement announcing that decision. “As he takes the same oath of office 156 years later, President-elect Trump is humbled to place his hand on Bibles that hold special meaning both to his family and to our country.”

After taking the oath, Trump, new Vice President Mike Pence and other dignitaries will head into the Capitol to Statuary Hall for the traditional post-inauguration lunch.

Design Cuisine, a catering firm from Arlington, Virginia, has again worked to design the menu. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies put together the event.

And while the president-elect does not drink, there will be a selection of California wine. That should be no real surprise, given that both House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hold seats on the organizing committee, and both hail from California.

That includes a return of the familiar Korbel Natural Special Inaugural Cuvée, which has been a fixture with the dessert course at multiple inaugurations, and which may again cause consternation among the French because it is billed as “California Champagne.”

The similarities to past inaugurals come in part because so much of the planning was done before anyone knew the outcome of the 2016 campaign.

“The inaugural luncheon provides an opportunity for members of both parties to come together and, in the same spirit of all our inaugural events, show the world how uniquely American we are in our peaceful transfer of power,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, the Missouri Republican who chairs the congressional organizing committee.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee will be hosting two public balls Friday night at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center adjacent to Mt. Vernon Square in downtown Washington, the same venue where the Obamas danced to Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of “Let’s Stay Together” in 2013.

This year’s ball for members of the military and their families is set for the National Building Museum, another familiar venue for official inaugural functions.

And local laws in the nation’s capital remain in effect, too. Even those that some Republicans and other Trump faithful might take umbrage with.

An official Twitter account for the D.C. government’s inaugural operations reminded followers Wednesday that “open-carry of firearms is prohibited in D.C. There is no reciprocity with other validly issued out of District permits.”

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