OBAMAMANIA!Nick Verreos and David Paul...and The Washington Monument Sightseeing Monday--------------------------------------- The day before the Inaugural Swearing-In, David and I decided to do some sightseeing and check out the National Mall and the Washington and Lincoln Monuments. We also thought it would be good to get the "lay of the land", in the event we decided to venture out the next day to witness the actual Swearing-In. After surveying our map of DC, and putting on about 5 layers of clothing-- we walked out of our One Washington Circle Hotel and began our trek to the National Mall. The hotel was very centrally located in the Foggy Bottom area of DC, near George Washington University, and it was about a 15-20 minute walk to the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall area. We cut right through the University, in an area which reminded me of my days back in Westwood at UCLA, and made it to one end of the National Mall. There were HUNDREDS of people there! We really did think "Oh, no one will be sightseeing today and so it will be really easy...." NOT!!! Of course, being the day before the Inaugural and Martin Luther King Day, everyone and their Mom seemed also to decide that Monday was their "Sightseeing Day".
And click above for a brief video on the "frozen lake" at the National Mall
Once we got to the Lincoln Monument, it was closed for actual viewing so people were gathering at the foot of the immense building that houses the Lincoln Statue taking photos. All of a sudden, I noticed that there were throngs of people lining up and I suggested to David that we join in. Boy, are we glad we did. They actually opened it up for just one hour and we happened to be part of the lucky group who was allowed to go up.Nick and Lincoln: Nick Verreos stands in front of the Lincoln Monument
I felt almost solemn looking up at the immense statue of Lincoln, it was as if I was staring at the great Sphinx in Egypt! David and I posed for photos and as soon as we did that, scores of security began directing us to come back down and that the "tour" was over...I just felt that luck was on our side on this prodigious beginning to our "Sightseeing Day".After walking down from the Lincoln Memorial, we passed hundreds of Port-a-Potties (officials say that there were 7,000 of them in preparations for Inaugural Tuesday) and walked beside the frozen lake (yep, it was that cold) and ended up at the opposite end, at the foot of the Washington Monument. Afterward, we decided that there was only one place left in our "Sightseeing Day": The White House. On the way there , we passed by my father's old "stomping grounds", the State Department (my father was a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department) so I had to take a photo in front of one of the buildings' entrances--hopefully he's smiling right now as he sees his son in that crazy winter "get-up"!We approached the White House area and once again, there were tons of people gathered in front of the gates that overlook it. Finally, we made it to the prime "photo" area, and got our White House Photo (see above). Interesting fact: The photo you see is of the back of The White House, not the front. Not many people realize this.
Tuesday January 20th, Obama Inaugural Day 2009--------
Bundled Up: Nick Verreos and David Paul, on Inauguration Day, in the National Mall, alongside 2 million other people
The day of the Inaugural came and both David and I decided the night before that we would go to the famous National Mall and partake in history. After all, we were in Washington DC and this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Believe me, we had our concerns, mainly the weather (sub-freezing). In case you are wondering, I had no "VIP" tickets, since I was not part of Beyonce or P Diddy's "posse".
Even though my former Project Runway mentor, Tim Gunn-- a native of DC--recommended to "Stay Home!" in a recent PBS interview when speaking about being at the Inaugural Swear-In, David and I still did it! Was it freezing? Yep. Where there a lot of people? Yep, 2 million estimated. The minute we got outside, there were many people making the same "pilgrimage" so we followed them. Camouflaged military were stationed on every DC corner, along with Military Hummer Trucks. Once we arrived, there were even "Obama Greeters"; volunteers in red "Obama caps" who welcomed us with a warm smile, saying "Welcome to the Inaugural..Have a Fabulous Day!". I kid you not. Two Million Strong: The Crowd exiting the National Mall
We walked and walked. The farthest we could go--until it was just impossible to get through the crowd--was right next to the Washington Monument, very far away from the actual Capitol Building, but we did not care. Stationed near one of the many "Jumbo-trons", we watched the Swearing In Ceremony for the next two hours, alongside all the other million+ crowd. I cannot state this enough: It was an UNBELIEVABLE MOMENT.
After newly-sworn in President Obama finished his speech, we all began making our way out, away from the Mall. But here's the problem: There were over a million people trying to do the same! I couldn't believe what was happening before my eyes: The most orderly exit of a million people I could ever have imagined. No fights, no pushing, nothing. Later I heard that there was not even ONE ARREST. It was like people exiting the Superbowl--but without the alcohol, Thank God! I love Tim Gunn, but I am glad I did not listen to his advice to stay home. Inaugural Tuesday 2009 was an unforgettable moment.
Click Below for a video I took once we got to our "Viewing Area" of the Swearing-In:
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