It’s Inauguration Planning Time!

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Now that we have our first black president of the United States in President-elect Barack Obama, and the initial excitement has turned into anticipation of what’s to come, the process of him taking over the White House continues with transitioning and official protocols. Obama has already chosen his chief of staff and is beginning the process of gathering the best people to fill cabinet seats.

But yet another momentous event is on the horizon–the event that makes it all official: Inauguration Day.

Many have already begun planning their trips to Washington D.C. for inaugural festivities to begin Jan. 20, 2009. Talk of bus trips and vacation days being taken to witness the swearing-in has filled barbershops, offices, and homes. Even Oprah reportedly had her gown for the inaugural ball well before final Election Day votes were tallied.

For those looking forward to being front and center for it all, there are a few things the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) wants you to know before planning your trip:

This year’s theme: “A New Birth of Freedom,” which, according to the JCCIC, commemorates the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The theme was derived from the Gettysburg address, and “express Lincoln’s hope that the sacrifice of those who died to preserve the nation shall lead to ‘a new birth of freedom’ for our nation,” the JCCIC states in a news release.

Location/Events: Typically Inauguration Day includes a series of events, from parades to balls to the actual swearing-in ceremony. Various committees handle the planning of these, all created after the election. Historically, the inaugural ceremony has been at the U.S Capitol. Other celebrations will occur in or around the Washington Mall and can be viewed from there. The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) is responsible for all balls and galas hosted in honor of the newly-elected president.

Tickets to the inauguration ceremony: These will be provided free of charge and distributed through Members of the 111th Congress. Those interested in attending the inaugural ceremonies should contact their Congressman or U.S. senator to request tickets. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural ceremonies does not provide tickets to the public.

The JCIC says that there is no Website or other ticket sales outlet that has tickets for the swearing-in ceremony to sell no matter what they claim. Tickets will not be distributed to Congressional offices until the week before the inauguration. Attendees must pick up tickets in person.

To get contact information for your congressman or senator, visit http://whoismyrepresentative.com/.

Being a spectator isn’t the only way witness history. Find out how you can participate in the parade or even volunteer during the festivities by visiting the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee Website.

For more information on the inauguration, visit the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) Website.

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