Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Obama's Inauguration January 20th, Bringing Kids? - Read This First!

January 20th's Inaugural Theme - "Renewing America’s Promise, Promises to be Tricky to Attend with Children Many local residents of the DC Metro area plan not only to attend the much anticipated inauguration day but to also bring their children with them. Some feel this is to great an event to miss out the opportunity to witness this historic event. While I applaud the idea of taking advantage of history in the making in your own back yard, I also need to caution those bringing younger children to be very aware this is not a baby or toddler friendly event, and it will even be a challenging event to navigate with kids. Teenagers will probably be able to hang well with the crowd, the security, the close quarters, the amount of walking and waiting at security points. But those of you with the younger half may do better joining in on some of the other celebrations, and watching the main event from the comforts of home and the ability to re-wind on your TV.

Security and event logistics that will affect those with young children significantly:

  1. Baby bags, and any bags – will often need to be checked at different points.
  2. Strollers will be next to impossible with these crowds and they are banned on the capitol grounds completely for the inauguration day.
  3. Be prepared for a Porta Potty Day!
  4. Changing centers, "parent rooms" for the most part will not be available on the mall. And there will not be any on the West side of the capitol for those attending the swearing in ceremony.
  5. Umbrellas are not allowed – so if you do come, bring ponchos and other rain appropriate gear.
  6. Bringing your own food for the day will also be tricky – organizers are only allowing "snack sized" food but, no coolers or thermoses are allowed. In addition no food will be provided inside the security perimeter.
  7. Backpacks and baby carriers are also prohibited, your child will have to walk alongside or you will have to carry your child for the day.
  8. For those families lucky enough to have secured a ticket remember: mom and dad’s tickets do not "cover" their children (even sitting in laps) your child must have a ticket also.
  9. Children should be prepared for a lot of walking that day, as most of the roads surrounding the area will be closed. There will be no parking available on Capitol Hill.
  10. As much as your children may want to make a sign or poster in celebration of the day; they will not be allowed, so perhaps put them on the fridge at home.
  11. Weather is often in the low to mid 30’s and quite often drizzly.

Other events to consider attending with kids:

On Saturday, January 17 - Obama, Biden and their families will travel by train to Washington, DC and will host events along the way in Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore. More details will be announced regarding each stop and the event planned there.

  1. On Monday the 19th: An Inaugural Eve Concert for America's Children - A free youth concert will be held at the Verizon Center. The concert will be free, but tickets will be required.
  2. On Tuesday, January 20th at 2:30 the Inauguration Parade begins. No Tickets are not required. *Please note you won’t be allowed to lineup along the parade route to stake out your spot before 7a.m. Location: Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC Viewing stands and bleachers will extend from 3rd to 17th Streets

Actual swearing in Ceremony begins at 11:30 am on the West Front Lawn and Capitol steps. Large screens are also being provided for people attending who are on the Mall. Aretha Franklin will be singing and legendary musicians Itzhak Perlman (Violin), Yo-Yo Ma (Cello), Gabriela Montero (Piano), Anthony McGill (Clarinet) will also be performing! Wow, what a line up.

  1. Be sure to check the METRO site for all updated schedules and changes, they are expected ginormous record breaking crowds!
  2. Check weather forecast and dress appropriately.
  3. Eat a good meal before you come down!

This is an incredible and wonderful, historic event. If your children are old enough to understand the significance, but perhaps not old enough to realize just how important a milestone this is in our history, pull out some books and pictures of the 60's during the race equality struggles and conflicts and share with them just how far we've come!

Let them know how it took police officers escorting the first black young girl to the first integrated school in the south and the drama surrounding the first black college students attending a previous all white college.

Tell your kids all about the struggle our country has gone through to evolve to the point of accepting all people regardless of race, creed or religion as equal members of our society.

Show them pictures and tell them the stories surrounding the amazing lives of Rosa Park, Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman, and the stand they took against the grain of society in order to demand their rights as people in a democratic society.

Regardless of your political affiliation, overall as a culture and community, this is a cause for celebration; our society has risen to the occasion and has changed history by casting their votes!

Happy Inauguration Day!

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