42,000 Expected at Convention Center for Official Inaugural Balls
The cavernous Ballroom B, site of the Western Ball.
Inauguration Watch was given a behind-the-scenes tour of preparation at the Washington Convention Center, where six official inaugural balls will be held Tuesday night. Officials from the Convention Center Authority said they expect a full house of 42,000 people (not including staff and security personnel) to show up for what is shaping up to be a massive party. Secret Service will sweep the building ahead of time, then two entraces will be open, one on L Street and one on Mount Vernon Avenue. People will have to walk through metal detectors.
Once inside, people must stick to their assigned ballroom. But the attendance won't be divided evenly between the six huge ballrooms. Not even close. Here's the breakdown:
Neighborhood Ball -- This has become the hot ticket and it is also the most intimate ball, with a crowd of 3,500 expected, officials said. It will be held in Ballroom D. The ball has an A-list of musical talent, including Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Faith Hill, JAY-Z, Alicia Keys, Shakira and Stevie Wonder. Nick Cannon will DJ the event. It will be hosted by Barack Obama, who reportedly will have Beyonce sing for his first dance with wife Michelle. ABC will televise the event from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Biden Home States Ball -- The ball hosted by Vice President-elect Joe Biden of Delaware will have the second-smallest crowd at 3,950 in the Grand Ballroom. Music by Maroon 5 and the James Gerard Orchestra.
Obama Home States Ball -- The ball for Illinois and Hawaii wil have 5,650 people in Ballroom E. Music by Common, Jack Johnson and Don Cagen Orchestra.
Midwest Ball -- This event has an expected crowd of 6,150 in Ballroom C, with music by Sheryl Crow and the Fabulous Motown Revue.
Mid-Atlantic Ball -- Held in Ballroom A, this event is the one that most Washingtonians might have scored tickets to and has an expected crowd of 7,160. Music by The Dead and DJ Cassidy.
Western Ball -- The mother of them all, this will be held in the cavernous Ballroom B with at crowd of -- drumroll, please -- 11,100. We hope Marc Anthony and Party on the Moon have strong amplifiers to reach a crowd that large.
Though it is not at the Convention Center, we're also told that the Southern Ball, at the D.C. Armory, will have about 10,000 people. Derek Trucks Band with Susan Tedeschi and the Wil Gravatt Band will perform.
No word on the crowd sizes for the other three official balls Eastern Ball at Union Station, the Youth Ball at the Washington Hilton or the Commander-in-Chief's Ball at National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW.
David A Nakamura
January 16, 2009; 2:45 PM ET
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