Don’t worry if you aren’t brave — or lucky — enough to attend the historic presidential inauguration.
There will be plenty of media coverage for those at home. Here’s a guide to making the most of watching the big event, and those leading up to it:
“Renewing America’s Promise.” Full details on the history of inaugurations and this year’s events can be found at the Inaugural committee’s Web site, pic2009.org.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer will follow President-elect Barack Obama’s train ride from Pennsylvania to Washington. The train will stop in Wilmington, Delaware to pick up vice-president-elect Joe Biden and his family. Obama will give a speech in Baltimore before heading south.
“We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.”
The free concert features top performers, such as Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Garth Brooks. Obama and his family are due to attend, with Obama expected to speak. The special will air later that night on HBO at 6 p.m. Cable and satellite subscribers who don’t have HBO will be able to watch for free.
The Disney Channel will air a concert honoring military families, “Kids’ Inaugural: We Are the Future,” expected to be hosted by Michelle Obama,. Entertainers include the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus.
During the day, Obama, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and their families, joined by Americans across the country, will participate in activities dedicated to serving others in community service activities.
THE BIG DAY
On Inauguration Day, if tradition holds, the Obamas will visit the White House in the morning before Bush and Obama ride to Capitol Hill together for the swearing-in ceremony.
Festivities begin at 9 a.m. and include musical selections — Aretha Franklin is slated to perform — an invocation, swearing-in of the president and vice-president, the inaugural address, a benediction and the playing of the national anthem, according to the Presidential Inaugural Committee Web site. Obama will be sworn in at noon. He will take the Oath of Office, using President Lincoln’s Inaugural Bible, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts. Scheduled around noon.
Obama will then escort Bush to a departure ceremony and go to a luncheon in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
Bush and his wife will leave the Capitol in a helicopter. Look for the wave.
THE INAUGURAL PARADE
Down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. The parade will begin after Obama’s lunch.
The current Weather Service forecast is morning clouds giving way to afternoon sun with highs in the upper 30s and a 10 percent chance of precipitation.
There are 10 official inaugural balls. The Obamas are expected to attend all of them.
THE TELEVISION COVERAGE
Expect coverage all day Tuesday on the major networks.
At night, many are planning specials, including: NBC’s Brian Williams will anchor a one-hour special at 9 p.m. that visits several inaugural balls. ABC will be on site at the “Neighborhood Inaugural Ball,” covering musical performances and the new president and first lady’s first dance of the night. At 9 p.m., ABC will track the other inaugural balls.
TV One is reporting from the scenes of Obama’s inaugural balls from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
MTV will be broadcasting from the “Youth Inaugural Ball.”
Nick Cannon hosts “Yes We Will!: BET’s Inauguration Celebration.” The one-hour special that was taped earlier premieres at 7 p.m. and includes live shots from BET’s first inaugural ball.
On Fox News Channel, the inauguration will be the first big political event in years not anchored by Brit Hume, who has taken on a part-time role. Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith will be the main anchors, with Hume replacement Bret Baier getting both morning and evening duty.
The president, vice president and their families will participate in a prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral.
NAMES TO KNOW
Bishop V. Gene Robinson: The first openly gay Episcopal bishop. He will say a prayer at the welcome event on Sunday.
The Rev. Rick Warren: His selection to give the invocation on Inauguration Day sparked protests from the gay community and even the National Organization for Women. Warren backed a recent ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in his home state of California. Obama has said his selection reflected a desire for diversity at the event and insisted he remained a “fierce advocate” of equal rights for gays.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California: Feinstein is the incoming chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee — the first woman to hold the post. She has served in the Senate since 1992. She will do the call to order and welcoming remarks on Inauguration Day.
John G. Roberts Jr.: Chief Justice of the United States who will administer the oath to Obama.
John Paul Stevens: Supreme Court Justice who will administer the oath to Biden.
The Rev. Sharon Watkins: Pastor of a Protestant denomination with about 700,000 members in the United States and Canada. She will deliver the sermon at the National Prayer Service on Wednesday that caps the inauguration activities. Watkins will be the first woman to give the sermon at the traditional event.
Elizabeth Alexander: A professor of African-American Studies and English literature at Yale and the author of four books of poems. She is America’s fourth inaugural poet. She will read an original poem at the inauguration.
The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery: A black Methodist civil rights leader. He will give the benediction on Inauguration Day.
PAY ATTENTION TO
The crowd size: The number has been as high as 5 million. Estimates have since been scaled down to 2 million — still more than the 400,000 who attended the 2005 inauguration of President Bush.
The inaugural address: Obama’s speech probably won’t come near the length of William Henry Harrison, who spoke for about an hour and 45 minutes. (He caught a cold and one month later he died of pneumonia.) Watch to see what he says and how he says it. Top inaugural speeches include John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The crowd reaction: Bush navigated the largest inaugural protests since Richard Nixon in his 2001 inauguration. Most were upset about the Florida election controversy. Four years later, thousands of people in dozens of cities across the nation protested, motivated by the war in Iraq.
“I can’t imagine demonstrations this time,” said Robert E. Gilbert, professor of political science at Northeastern University. “Bush was a very unpopular president and the polls show it.”
The trip from the Capitol to the White House: Jimmy Carter was the first president to walk all the way from the Capitol to the White House after the ceremony. What will Obama do? What will the Secret Service allow him to do? asks Gilbert.
Michelle Obama: Whether she wears a full-on ballgown or a sparse sheath — which seems to be her favorite silhouette — to the balls, it’s sure to influence what the rest of us will wear. She’s the darling of the fashion world right now and the color, style and designer she chooses will probably enjoy a surge of popularity.