Inauguration Preparations in Full Swing

Barrington M. Salmon | 1/16/2013, 10:46 a.m.

On Saturday, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice Presidential spouse Jill Biden will host a children's concert. A stellar cast of performers will entertain the youngsters. The concert will pay special tribute to military families in honor of their sacrifice and service.

Because Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday, the presidential oath will be administered in a private ceremony and the public swearing-in and celebrations held the next day. At noon on Sunday, Jan. 20, as required by the Constitution, Obama will take the official oath of office in the Blue Room at the White House, and Vice President Joe Biden will be sworn in at the Naval Observatory in Northwest.

The cost of attending many of the events is out of the price range of most working Washingtonians but inauguration officials made available a limited number of $60 ball tickets for the general public that sold out very quickly.

The inaugural activities come at the end of a heated, partisan, rancorous election which saw Obama win a second four-year term over Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The inauguration also plays out against a backdrop of economic turmoil, stubborn unemployment numbers, a sharply divided electorate and the winding down of an unpopular war in Afghanistan.

Unlike four years ago, Obama is expected to take the oath in temperatures that meteorologists predict will range between the 30s and mid-40s.

The nation's 57th inauguration is suffused with history. It falls on the day set aside by Americans to remember the life, legacy and service of Civil Rights icon King. It also comes as the nation celebrates the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial occurred 50 years ago this year. Symbolically, the bibles Obama has chosen for his swearing-in are one belonging to King and another that Lincoln used during his presidential inaugural ceremony.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies theme for the 57th inauguration is "Faith in America's Future" which commemorates America's perseverance and unity, while marking the sesquicentennial year that the Statue of Freedom was placed atop the Capitol dome in 1863.

The president's inaugural theme, "Our People. Our Future." speaks to the country's diversity, and reflects the strength of Americans and their ability to overcome trials and challenges.

The parade, which extends from the U.S. Capitol to the White House, will necessitate the closing of swathes of downtown Washington for security reasons. About 60 streets and more than a dozen bridges will be closed until the end of the festivities. Thousands of police, security personnel and members of the military, police agencies and the Secret Service will provide security.

Metrorail is running on a rush-hour schedule for 17 hours on Monday from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m., then, it will operate on a non-rush hour schedule until 2 a.m. Three stations - Archives, Mt. Vernon Square and Smithsonian stations will be closed throughout the day for security reasons.

Metro is providing about 60,000 parking spaces in 29 lots and 22 garages for motorists on Inauguration Day.