WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration is expected to draw 1 million-plus to the capital, and already some lawmakers have stopped taking ticket requests and hotels have booked up.
Some people are bartering on Craigslist for places to stay for the Jan. 20 ceremony when the Illinois senator takes the oath of office. They are offering cash or even help with dishes for residents willing to open up their homes.
The National Park Service, which is planning for an inaugural crowd of at least 1 million, will clear more viewing space along the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route. Jumbo TV screens will line the National Mall so people can watch the inauguration and parade, park service spokesman David Barna said Thursday.
The District of Columbia’s delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, is urging planners to use arenas and stadiums to help with overflow crowds wanting to view the ceremonies on big-screen TVs. She is also urging churches to hold viewing parties.
The city’s police chief, Cathy Lanier, said organizers brought in an additional 3,000 officers from forces around the country to help with the last inauguration. This time, the request probably will be for about 4,000 officers.
Because of a lawsuit, people should have more standing room along the crowded parade route. War protesters sued after President George W. Bush’s last inauguration, forcing the government to open up more free public viewing space between the Capitol and White House.
New rules to be issued Monday will lower the number of ticketed bleacher seats along the parade route from 20,000 seats to 8,700, leaving much more of the route open to people without tickets, Barna said.
Seat tickets had sold for between $15 and $150 in 2005 to help pay for the inaugural parade. Details for the 2009 parade tickets have not been set because Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee, which organizes the parade, is being formed.
The largest crowd ever recorded on the National Mall was for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 inauguration. At the time, the park service estimated 1.2 million people descended on the area. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration drew about 500,000 people.