OK, I promised to get back with you today with another post. But again, where to start? I decided to explain what it's like to experience the actual inauguration day,
Our trip organizer, Tom Saunders, did his homework and was able to secure inauguration ceremony and parade tickets from elected officials. Yes, you do need both to get on the grounds of the first, and on the bleachers of the second.
For the ceremony, the ticketing process is much like attending a stadium sporting event. Our group members received tickets that took us in a variety of standing areas, designated by color. While you don't receive a specific seat, you receive a color- coded area in which to stand. Only a couple of us had navy-blue tickets so we teamed up to go together. My buddy was Kathleen Yager of Rushville. We took the Metro to Judicial Square where we saw this fella when we emerged from underground.
After taking his photo, we spotted posters pointing attendees in the right direction, according to color. Off we went several blocks. The nearer we got to the Capitol, the more the protesters increased. Interestingly, the loudest demonstrator was a Christian street preacher.
Then came this dramatic scene, protesting the Gitmo prison.
Next up, this one.
We turned at that corner and proceeded another block or so until we spotted a security check for those carrying navy entry passes. That was us. I would have liked to have taken photos of the Secret Service checking folks, but I was told the night before at the Indiana Society Ball not to photograph them so I didn't try..
We had been told to take very little with us, including making sure if there was a purse, it was very small. If you know me, you know taking a small purse to anything is a feat in itself. But I did load only essentials into a smallish one that I could crisscross and wear against me.
Reports on TV went back and forth as to if we could take umbrellas. I didn't even try since I had a hooded rain poncho, which I carried and quickly put on when it started sprinkling. The skies looked as though they would open up at any time but never got beyond a sprinkle. Whew!
It was much like airport security in that our bags and clothing were checked, we walked through scanners and were wanded.
We walked to as close as we could and still remain in our section. We were near a fence that separated us from a path where a lot of good looking and well-heeled folks passed by en route to the next level of seating, hundreds of seats. I have a real feeling that had we known who these people were, we would have been impressed. Maybe governors and other pols. Or lawyers of the big wigs. Who knows, but they were of a higher order than those of us standing.
We did see a few celebs. There were Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway, country singer Trace Adkins, a famous wrestler people knew, a Fox News broadcaster and a few others who are young and famous (or semi-so) and while crowd members waved and sought their attention, I didn't know them.
The thing about standing is that once you get your spot, the crowd starts filling in behind you and edging into your space. One man asked if he could just go ahead of us to get a photo. Before we knew it, he was a permanent resident of a coveted spot leaning on the fence. I was asked if I would give a dad and his kids my spot. Um, sorry but no. As the crowd presses in, you quickly realize that you must firmly stay put or you would be nudged out of the area where you started. I spent five hours in the same spot, packed like sardines.
You look for whatever it takes to pass the time. I was fortunate to land next to a retired fighter pilot / commercial airline pilot and his wife from Las Vegas. After five hours of being up close and personal, by the time it's over, you feel as you should invite them to Easter dinner or something.
The patriotic live music helped a great deal in redirecting my focus away from my aching legs.
We couldn't see the actual ceremony, but we saw the snipers posted atop the capitol building. Security aircraft flew overhead. A pair of large-screens on both sides of the capitol allowed us to watch the goings-on as dignitaries were introduced and seated, there were prayers and short speeches, and then there was this miracle of miracles that is rare in the world at large. It was the peaceful transfer of power from one president and administration to the next.
Sworn in was Hoosier Mike Pence as Vice President and Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the U.S.
We made our way out of the area and headed back the way we came. It wasn't long at all before we heard the former Marine 1 helicopter fly overhead carrying former President and Mrs. Obama.
We kept moving and soon we saw this.
We saw no violence and no rioting but these police were ready if it happened. And it did, with more than 200 arrested.
We weren't sure how to get to the parade. Kathleen was bent on seeing the parade. I had already decided that as soon as I delivered her to the viewing stands (which also require Secret Service checks) I would head back to the hotel via the Metro to write stories and upload photos. One of the papers I was writing for needed my work by 9 that night.
Let's just say we took the scenic route to get there. Two more hours of walking and hopping on and off the Metro. At one point, the Metro personnel told us we might not be able to get off where we needed because the city is rioting. Kathleen was unfazed! I think she she would have walked through a riot itself to get to that parade. She was steady and fearless! I still can't believe that we arrived exactly at 3, when the parade was to start. I had hoped to then stick around long enough to see our new elected officials but there seemed to be a delay. So I left early but Sue Saunders caught this image.
I walked a couple of blocks to a Metro station and after a change at another station and a scramble to find my line, as well as a great chat with a young professional from Maryland, and who happens to love downtown Indy, calling it, MUCH to my surprise, a "mini Paris," I was on my way, then suddenly lost in the crowd, then an arrival at my stop, Bethesda!
I wanted to rest and relax, to eat and have a soft drink! I had not had a single drop of water or food since 7 a.m. and here it was 5 p.m. I prayed for a burst of energy and to not freak out as I had three stories to write and about a dozen photos to upload for my employer. The stories and photos would go to a variety of newspapers around Indiana.
So I ordered room service, put on my pajamas and got to work. I tried to accomplish it all in a methodical way. First the inauguration story. Next the ball story and finally the sightseeing one. The good news was that my old computer with its new power cord and my cellphone were holding steady.
I worked feverishly, taking time to eat when it arrived and for little else. My deadline was 9 and I was maybe three or four minutes late.
And then, I dropped.
What a whrilwind this has all been. But I am blessed as a reporter to be here, to experience and write about it all, be it right now, on Facebook posts or in print or on websites of newspapers throughout the state, including my home base, the New Castle Courier-Times.
And now. It is approaching 10 p.m. We roll out of here at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, headed for home.
I have more I want to say about this trip. To be continued.