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Not Quite 2009: Inauguration Crowds Smaller, But Still Leave Their Mark

From Obama condoms to Code Pink, chilly DC streets saw a dash of everything in the crowds that gathered.

by
Fallon Forbush

Bio

January 21, 2013 - 8:40 pm

But the thick crowds and lines combined with the crisp 33-degree temperatures got to some people. “This is poor,” said Diane Waskiew, a visitor from New York, after waiting in line to get into the parade route viewing area for more than an hour and hardly moving at all.

Small pockets of protesters were reported, from antiwar demonstrations by Code Pink and other groups to MoveOn.org, the Westboro Baptist Church, and supporters of accused WikiLeak-er Bradley Manning. One anti-abortion demonstrator was perched high in a tree along the Mall and wouldn’t come down for more than three hours.

According to a report from the Washington Examiner, event planners only budgeted for 1,500 port-a-potties for the event — 5,000 less than at the ’09 inauguration. Many businesses along the National Mall posted “no public restrooms” signs on windows and doors to discourage bathroom breaks from nonpaying customers.

Along with navigating through peddlers selling their Obama memorabilia—hats, T-shirts, lanyards, posters, buttons and even condoms—there was also a strong presence of law enforcement, whether on horseback, on foot or accompanied by canines.

Throughout the shuffle of the inaugural events, three missing children alerts were sent out to those signed up to receive emergency alerts via text from the U.S. Park Police. Fortunately, all missing children were reunited with their families, the Park Police reported.

Though people were packed tight, they all seemed to get to where they were going, which was an improvement from four years ago.

According to the National Capital Region (NCR) Office of the National Park Service, Congress appropriated $15 million to the District to cover costs associated with Obama’s ’09 inauguration preparations, which included 20,000 public safety personnel deployed to handle the crowds, as well as 8,000 law enforcement personnel from 56 different agencies to provide security. Approximately 18,000 volunteers provided “critical assistance” throughout the inauguration.

Yet, the massive crowds caused organizers to deviate from established plans and field workers on the ground often lacked updated information, which led to confusion and congestion, an NCR report said.

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