My day at the inauguration
My editor Dante and I met early in the morning to make our way to the designated area where we had tickets. By the time we got there, tens of thousands of people had already gathered on the National Mall and more were yet to come. They had started pouring in since before sunrise, even though the ceremony was scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
Everywhere I looked I saw folks wearing inauguration memorabilia: buttons, hats, scarves, flags, bagsand backpacks, and even jackets with the presidential seal. People had come from all over the country to be together for this momentous occasion. I spoke with members of a family who came from Florida, Georgia, New York, and Texas for a reunion on the National Mall on Inauguration Day!
A crowd of great diversity was making its way slowly but
steadily towards the Capitol Building. Kids of all ages, parents, and
grandparents tried to find a spot in front of the giant screens placed
strategically on the Mall. The atmosphere was charged with boundless energy as
the crowd was anticipating the President’s oath and speech.
Everywhere you went was jam-packed with people. Dante and I had tickets for the South Standing area. Because no one seemed to be checking tickets once we were inside, we moved with the crowd to the West Standing area. It was mobbed by thousands of people. At one point we were even squashed between a massive crowd and the doors of a port-a-potty!
We decided that we could spend hours standing between a bathroom door and a mass of people. So we walked around until we found a spot where we might be able to see one of the massive TV screens set up in front of the Capitol. We ended up in a very unfortunate position, with no view of either the event itself or the screen. We moved around trying to catch a glimpse of the President — or anything else —without much luck.
When the moment finally came for the presidential oath and President Obama's inaugural address, any frustration we had was gone. This was history! Hundreds of thousands of American flags flew in the air as one, and a huge roar rose from the masses. People listened intently to the “our journey is not complete” speech, nodding and cheering when the President hit the right note.
At the end, the crowd exploded after each of Kelly Clarkson’s and Beyoncé’s performances, and then, in less than an hour, the National Mall was almost cleared. It was weird to see the lawn so empty after just minutes before being so full. And it was upsetting to see how much garbage the thousands of people left behind.
After the ceremony was over we tried to reconnect with my mom, but because so many streets were closed or blocked it took us almost two hours to cover what could have been a block’s distance.
We eventually all found each other. But we were all cold, tired, and exhausted — not to mention hungry and thirsty — that we needed to find a warm place to rest up. We ended up at the Smithsonian Castle where we had a working lunch at its cafe.
After a couple hours, we thought we waited out most of the crowd. But when we emerged an hour and a half later we discovered Inauguration Day was still in full swing. My mom and I said goodbye to Dante and tried to make our way to the closest Metro station. It took us another hour and a half to essentially cross the street because we were diverted around so many blocks. While the police, Secret Service, and Army personnel were very pleasant and good natured, I heard many people and reporters complaining that security for the inauguration was not handled very smoothly.
Despite these inconveniences, I was very proud to have been
witness to this event. Even though it wasn’t quite what I expected, it was a
great experience that I will never forget.
Check out my story about Inauguration Day on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website!
—Kid Reporter Hannah PrenskyPhoto: Kid Reporter Hannah Prensky in front of the Capitol Building after the inauguration. (Dante A. Ciampaglia/Scholastic)