So, who’s planning to come to D.C. for Inauguration?
If you raised your hand, I hope you’ve found a place to stay! I’ve been following a lot of the local news about the Inauguration on January 20th, and they are expecting between 2 and 4 million people to attend. I have to admit, even though I only live about 6 miles from the Capitol, I will not be attending. I am not a fan of crowds, it’s too far to walk (especially in January!) and the statement from Metro indicating that after the ceremony, it could take up to 8 hours for everyone to get home by Metro rail alone made me decide to make alternate plans.
So as you can probably tell, I’m not planning to attend the ceremony. I’ve gone back and forth on this, but my ultimate decision hinged on the fact that I’m very uncomfortable in large crowds (I’m short, and have been smashed between very tall people before and it is quite claustrophobia inducing) and the fact that so many people are going that I would probably end up watching on a jumbotron. Instead, I’m planning to have a few friends from my neighborhood come over and we’ll watch together and have brunch and drinks and relax and enjoy the event from afar and not have to deal with the crowds.
I have a number of friends who are renting out their homes for the weekend and who are making a significant amount of money doing so. There are a number of very well written contract templates out there for people looking to get renters. My friends are making $8000 for 4 nights in their two bedroom home. I considered this for a brief second, but decided against it. I don’t like the idea of strangers in my home, plus I’m not sure where I would go that I could take my cats with me. Additionally, I’m sure there’s something in my lease agreement that forbids such a thing.
So, are you one of the millions who will be here? I have a few tips for you, and will have more as the event gets closer.
First, do you have a place to stay? Seriously. If you don’t, you better start looking now. People are reserving rooms that are hours and hours away.
Be prepared to be patient. It will be crowded. WMATA is working to make public transit as easy as possible, but well, I have very little faith that all will run smoothly. If you can stay close enough to walk, even if it’s 3 miles away, you should walk. Seriously. And don’t think about driving in the city. Just don’t do it.
Watch the weather. D.C. weather is unpredictable. 62 degrees one day, 34 degrees and rainy the next. It might be nice, it might be miserable. Be prepared.
Don’t expect to rely on cell phones. They are working to bring in additional temporary cell towers, but it may be tough to get a call out while you’re at the ceremony. Everyone will be calling their friends and family so they can share in the event.
Bring cash. Yes, D.C. has ATMs, but with all the people coming in, the ATMs might get drained faster than you think.
Watch out for the doors on the Metro. They are not like elevator doors. If they are closing and you stick your arm in, they will not stop and will close on your arm. You will bruise. And be yelled at by a Metro driver because they can’t move with the doors open. Watch your bags and clothing and small children as well. While I find it hilarious when someone gets their backpack stuck in the door and ends up pinned, it just causes delays and that’s the last thing anyone wants on such a crazy day.
Be courteous and respectful. This is a historic event. It will be crowded and people may be miserable while trying to get home. Remember that you’re there to celebrate. Smile at the stranger standing next to you. And have fun!