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those of the author and do not
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No place to be
on Jan 20
By Susan Olling
Every four years, January 20 is a day on the National Mall just like
the 04 Jul. There are a few differences, but the result’s the
same: the Mall is no place to be.
Before continuing, I would like to say a few things related to the
upcoming festivities. The local fish wrapper didn’t and still
doesn’t have much positive to say about the upcoming administration
change. Mind you, we read this newspaper only on Sundays and the
day after the local NFL franchise loses a game.
One of the local television stations has been asking people to comment
about the inauguration, and some of these comments have been included
on the local news. Just stick to the news, please.
To the president of Talladega College, thank you for taking the high
road. He announced that the college band will, despite opinions
to the contrary on social media, be marching in the inaugural parade.
Back to why there are several reason for being anywhere but the
National Mall on 20 Jan.
Crowds: Just like Independence Day, the Mall will be a mass of
people. However, given the boisterous election cycle, the
election result and the days that followed the election, I will not be
at all surprised to hear about fisticuffs on the National Mall between
those who support the president-elect and those who don’t.
Security: Like the Fourth of July, there will be police, security
checkpoints and a list of items that will not be allowed past the
checkpoints on 20 Jan. In addition, local law enforcement will
welcome the help of a few thousand police officers from all over the
country and a few thousand National Guard members. This writer
hopes that the law enforcement presence will be large enough to keep
order down there.
Road closures: Not much of a problem on 04 Jul. Difficult
would be a charitable description of the driving conditions anywhere
close to the Mall the week of 16 Jan. There will be many road
closures and restrictions on vehicles on 20 Jan. Some road
closures will start earlier in the week as will parking
restrictions. Alternate transportation is the operative
phrase. Which brings us to--
Metro: Our little subway system in the travel option of choice on
04 Jul, and the only sane option the week of 16 Jan. That said,
I’m hoping our little subway system will make it through the week
without tunnel fires, arcing incidents, track problems (particularly
though downtown D.C.), or problems with trains. There have been
some recent occurrences of train cars separating from the rest of the
train. And these cars are the new ones. There was a
reported “computer glitch” during one recent morning rush hour in which
all five lines were affected. Lasted about one hour.
Lots of crowded platforms and unhappy riders.
To all the hordes using our little subway system on 20 Jan, surprise
me. I would be thrilled to hear that there were no fights or
other disturbances in the system, and that includes on the trains
(where you’re a captive) between fans of the president-elect and those
who aren’t. National Guard members will be in the Metro
stations, in addition to Metro system’s police officers. Perhaps
they will be enough of a deterrent.
There will be five stations in and around the Mall and Capitol grounds
closed on 20 Jan. Metro’s suggesting that anyone going down there
get off at stations farther away from the festivities and walk to the
National Mall. Will people heed this? Is the Pope a
Weather: I was hoping for quite a few inches of snow on
Inauguration Day. Unfortunately, the extended forecast
predicts temperatures on 20 Jan in the mid-50s—a heat wave for
January—and morning rain. No cases of hypothermia this time
What doesn’t happen on the Fourth of July is customary for the
inauguration: locals rent rooms or their entire houses for
inflated sums. Find a hotel, even if it’s in Frederick or
Good luck to those who will be working down there on 20
Jan. For the rest of you, plan your trips in advance of
Inauguration Day; and check your politics at the security checkpoints
(if not sooner).