The countdown is on: We are just three days away from the Inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. People supporting and protesting our 45th President will be heading to the District, but is the city ready for up to a million visitors?
Ready or not, they’re coming.
If you’re out and about in DC this week, you’ll see barricades, blocked off streets and no parking signs, fences are up almost everywhere you look. It’s all part of the norm in the District of Columbia, at least this week, as the city transforms before January 20th. “This is a big ta-da, there’s a lot of stuff going on here,” says Jean-Paul Cote, visiting for the first time from Canada. “It seems like a lot of pomp-and-circumstance,” agrees Dave Patterson, visiting DC from San Diego.
It’s hard not to notice what’s happening in our city, especially in places like Lafayette Park, a spot usually filled with White House selfie-takers, is now, not so picturesque. “It’s a little blocked,” says Rebekah Kim, who is in town from Hawaii. “But it’s OK, I’m just trying to find a different corner to look at.”
The road blocks – both visually and literally – are frustrating for people like Jean-Paul. “There is so much fencing and channeling of people, I want to see stuff! I’m just not seeing anything except preparations,” he says.
Preparations that might be irritating right now, but will be downright necessary Friday, when 900,000 people are expected to attend the inauguration. About 30 organizations, including the Secret Service, will all be working together. 28,000 security personnel will be on hand, including 3,000 police officers from around the country. The DC National Guard will be activated, and blimps might be visible in the air to keep drones away.
Not to mention, the protesters: About 99 different groups have applied for protest permits. Whatever their reason is for coming, hundreds of thousands of people will be here. “It is necessary, to control a million people,” agrees Cote.
For these tourists, the peaceful transition of power is most definitely worth capturing. “I knew the inauguration was this week so I knew it was going to be busy,” says Kim. “So I wanted to be here and see the set up.”