Some Hiccups Again This Year

TPM Reader BK reports in on his inauguration experience:

I absolutely loved President Obama’s speech. But I wound up watching it on someone’s iPhone on 19th Street, NW, because sadly, this was one of the most poorly organized events ever — disgraceful when you consider that they had the experience of 2008 to guide them.

We walked down 18th Street to Constitution Avenue and over to the Washington Monument grounds. (In 2008, we watched from the lawn area in front of the Monument, where we had a long-distance view of the Capitol and two jumbotrons within our view.

This year, that area was inexplicably closed with fencing all around. Instead, there was one jumbotron to the side of the monument, providing no view of the Capitol or the Mall. It could have been anywhere.

We then tried to walk up Constitution Avenue to the Mall as the maps they handed out showed as the way to go. But it was closed off. Then we walked back in front of the Monument to Independence Ave., which was the other way to the Mall. The crowds were being funnelled into small and smaller passageways, making for dangerous bottlenecks and crowding. Eventually, we made it to Independence and 12th Street, which was supposed to be an entrance to the Mall. But they closed the gate and said the Mall was full. Meanwhile the entire area of the Mall between 12th and 15th Streets was fenced off, empty, and closed to any overflow crowd. Why?

So we made our way like sardines back to the area next to the Monument with the Jumbotron. But the Jumbotron was on the fritz — the video and audio was consistently broken up. Perfect capstone to our morning.

So we left. This was at 11:45, when the ceremony was underway. And the massive crowds leaving — before the President had even taken the oath of office — offered far better testimony than I could about how badly whoever was in charge completely bungled the organization and security of the event.

Our one saving grace was running into a kind soul on 19th Street who was live streaming the inauguration on his iPhone and let us watch with him and his friends.

This was frustrating, but we live in DC and attended the inauguration four years ago, so not so big a deal. But I can’t imagine how awful it would feel to have traveled a long way for this historic event and experience what we did.