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The Maryland Transit Administration announced today that it would run trains and buses both for Inauguration Day and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday preceding it, the Baltimore Sun reported. MARC trains do not typically run on federal holidays, but the transit authority decided the huge expected crowds warranted an exception.
If early crowd estimates turn out to be true, the inauguration will be an event of papal proportions. The Philadelphia Inquirer provides context:
Four million attended the closing Catholic Mass at World Youth Day in Manila in the Philippines in 1995. Pope John Paul II spoke to three million in Poland in 1979, and between two million and four million attended his funeral in Rome in 2005. A crowd of 750,000 to 1.5 million celebrated Earth Day in New York in 1990.
The largest gathering in Washington is said to be the 1965 inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson, which drew 1.2 million, according to newspaper articles. But those accounts were almost surely in error because Johnson was inaugurated on the east side of the Capitol, facing a sea of buildings, not the expanse of the Mall. The next-largest crowds were one million for the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration and 800,000 for the first inauguration of Bill Clinton.
That article also estimates that a crowd of 4 million needs more than 40,000 portable toilets; the Washington Examiner reports that Metro will provide 150 of them, as they intend to close every restroom in the system. Escalators may also be turned off at times.
It turns out there is a limit to how far away inauguration-goers will book accomodations: While Richmond hotels have seen brisk business, the Virginian -Pilot reports that the Hampton Roads area has been quiet.
More participants for the Jan. 20 parade are being announced; recently added groups included one mechanized and one infantry. The former is the World Famous Lawn Rangers, which uses lawnmowers to perform drill team maneuvers. The latter is Civil War re-enactors representing the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the all-black Union unit depicted in the movie "Glory."
The latter group would fit in with a proposed extension of the parade route -- WTOP reports that the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership thinks Obama should begin his procession more than 80 miles away at Gettysburg National Military Park.
Christopher Dean Hopkins
December 8, 2008; 12:34 PM ET
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