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First Person: Inauguration Brings 4.8 Million Partygoers

By Rio Bauce
Wednesday January 21, 2009 - 07:44:00 PM

As many watched the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States Barack Obama from their homes, I spent the morning and afternoon at the site of the event. Excited as ever to have a seat behind the capitol pool in the “Silver” section, I arrived shortly after the 9 a.m. opening of the gates. Expecting slight amounts of waiting and inconvenience, I rode up the escalator out of the Federal Center Metro Station in downtown Washington D.C. 

There were a lot of people. Expected, I thought. So I found the line for Silver and started to follow it. It lapped around a corner, then another corner, and then nine or ten more corners. When I reached the end of the two-mile line, a volunteer told me that the actual line was at 3rd and Independence and that this line led to nowhere. I went over there and that is when the trouble began. 

Have you ever heard the word “mob mentality?” Imagine hundreds of thousands of people clumped on one city block, all trying to find their way to security locations that have been changed already several times on inauguration day. Half of the people are not moving, and the other half are pushing those people. 

After lots of aggressive crowd maneuvering, I made it to the Silver section. I was around the capitol pool, with a good view. As I moved closer and closer on the east side of the capitol pool, the policeman at the front informed all of us that he would not open the gate that would allow us to move to the middle of the land in front of the capitol pool. The only entrance to the middle was the west side. In another case of maneuvering, I ventured to the west side and made it to the middle. 

Great, right? At around 11:30 a.m., my friend, however, wanted to climb a tree to get a better view. Capitol police saw him and made us both leave. Confused and pissed off, we were instructed to go to the exit, which put us in another crowded group of people where we couldn't move. 

Luckily, the same crowd broke down the barricade, and I was able to return to the same location that I was at earlier—just in time to hear Obama speak. To chants of “Obama” and “Yes We Can,” Obama gave an inspiring speech that will always echo in my mind.