Yesterday my inauguration weekend got off to an official start with the kick off concert on the mall. The concert started at 2:30. We were told that the gates would open at 8 am, and that we were expecting a million people. We decided that we should leave the house at 7 am and camp out all day. However, 6 am comes a little early when you are at a party at another volunteer corps house until 1:30. So we woke up at 8, had a big breakfast and packed lunches, peanut butter sandwiches, apples and granola bars. We took the metro to Farragut and walked. I thought getting there might be awful. But the metro was not very busy and the walk was not either. We got there a little after 10, I think. We decided to go ahead and sit down the closest we could get and wait for the concert to start. We brought books and newspapers. Then we made friends with the people on blankets around us and they played word games with us. We also protected our little patch of ground from people trying to sneak in.
The wait was a little long and a little cold but not bad. I found myself wishing I were wearing maybel one more layer. The only bad part of the experience was when the first speaker appeared on stage and the crowds behind us rushed forward. We were sitting and had to jump and run to not get trampled. But we got up and managed to all stay together.
The concert was great. It was structured so that a famous person would do a reading, and then someone would sing. The readings of speeches were mostly reflections on historical events, and presidents. I liked this. It seemed like a good way to keep the past in mind as we move into the future.
The variety of performers and presenters was amazing. I got to see people I never thought I would see live, like Usher and Shakira. Singing together. This is really funny, but as a kid I loved Garth Brooks, (and still do) so getting to see him sing "Miss American Pie" and "We Shall be Free" was great. Other highlights I also loved getting to see Tom Hanks do a dramatic reading. And of course, the grand finale, Beyonce, was great.
I just asked my housemate Jen what her favorite part of the concert was and she said it was watching the crowd go wild for Obama. There were huge celebrities there and they would get some applause Tom Hanks got some cheers, so did Jack Black and Samuel L Jackson. But they showed Obama's face on the jumbotron for just seconds and he got monstrous applause every time. And that was really cool to experience. And I agree with Jen, seeing that our president creates this response is in fact spectacular.
After the concert there were huge numbers of people spilling onto the streets. I hadn't actually realized how far forward we where until we started to leave and saw thousands and thousands of people behind us. We walked to Dupont and after searching and searching for a restaurant, we ended up having Chipotle. Deanna and I went home and the others stayed out for a beer. I then went to bed and slept for 12 hours, which was wonderful.