Following up on yesterday’s phone report on pre-inaugural activities, Sabra Briere was able to make a call out a couple of hours after the ceremonies concluded. (Briere, who represents Ward 1 on Ann Arbor city council, traveled to D.C. for the inauguration ceremonies with her husband, David Cahill.) During the event, she said, AT&T was not able to make a connection for her – though she noticed people around her succeeding.
The crowd she characterized as “definitely intimate” but with everyone bundled up against the cold, not awkwardly so. One woman’s outerwear of choice was a fur coat. And because she was standing on a raised seating area, blocking the view of those behind her, it elicited a repeated plea, “Fur Coat, Sit Down!” Only when someone got her a chair, did she sit. That contrasted with a guy wearing San Francisco Giants apparel, who complied quickly with the directive of his fellow inauguration attendees.
The view in question was from roughly a quarter-mile away. Briere said that if she had it to do over again, she would have brought along her bird-watching binoculars. She speculated that there would not have been an issue bringing them through security, because people were bringing through all manner of items. This, after word had spread that no bags larger than 2 x 4 x 9 inches would be permitted through security – which proved to be incorrect. Though she was prepared psychologically to take off her shoes and coat for the security check, Briere said they just asked people to open their coats. Shoes stayed on.
Briere said there were a wide range of geographies represented amongst the crowd, having chatted with people from Louisiana, Texas, and California. One woman, when asked where she was from, said, “Here.” And when Briere identified herself as hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, came the clarification, “Oh, I’m from Northville (Michigan).” The D.C. resident was a manager at the Shakespeare Theater.
As far as the inauguration itself, Briere reported that a low rumble of a boo could be heard when George Bush was introduced, and led to speculation amongst the crowd that it would not be broadcast. But generally, Briere said, it was a happy and friendly crowd. Briere said that when Obama spoke, people were positively rapt with attention.
Before Obama spoke, Briere reported that the invocation was followed by the Lord’s Prayer, and that people in the crowd joined in (the “trespasses version”).
After the ceremonies, people were ready to leave, but the Metro stations where people had arrived had been closed. It wasn’t clear how they were supposed to get out of the area. Briere said they had taken refuge in the Freer Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute, along with several hundred other people. The problem of warmth was solved, but food still needed to be tracked down.
Because they drove, Briere said, they were not in the same situation as many people who wondered how they would be able to catch their flights. But they’d been hoping to get on the road back to Ann Arbor to get part of the drive out of the way yet tonight – Briere has to return to work on Thursday. The longer they had to remain in the area of the Capitol mall, the smaller the chances that plan would be realized.