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As the city begins the long clean-up process of an Inauguration attended by over
one million people, it’s time to take stock of news you may have missed in the midst of transportation delays and potential foreign security threats.
In the District, Captain Chelsey Shellenberger, hero pilot of the flight that landed on the Hudson last week, was spotted at Hudson restaurant enjoying Inauguration festivities with some other members of the crew of Flight 1549.
Students at the city’s colleges, semi-permanent residents of the city, also got into the act. Howard University welcomed back alumni for the occasion while almost 50 George Washington University students marched with the school’s float in the parade.
On the party front, lobbyists still had the best digs. The 51st State Ball got poor reviews for a lack of alcohol and security woes, while there wasn't much dancing at Obama’s home states ball until Usher and Bon Jovi saved the day.
Downtown, a Houston transit worker volunteering with Metro for the day helped save a woman who had fallen onto the tracks at Gallery Place-Chinatown station.
Swainson said that he couldn't have anticipated playing such a critical role in a major situation during his time as a Metro volunteer in D.C. "I expected there to be a lot of people, and figured there would be a lot of crowd control," he said. He couldn't have been prepared for a fallen passenger, however, especially because Houston's rail line runs above ground, "and none of the lines are hot," he said.
"This was a new world for me. You still have that fear factor about what's down below there, and what not to mess with. But we had to do something to get her to safety," he explained.
While D.C. enjoyed its time in the limelight, New Yorkers also celebrated the day while pondering their city’s own unique Inauguration Day history. Following a four-day lighting event to remind New Yorkers of Election Day, the Empire State Building was also lit in red, white and blue, the first lighting ever to honor the Inauguration of a new president. In the past, special lighting at the building has been used to commemorate the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and celebrate the Bicentennial in 1976.
Elsewhere throughout the country, newspapers everywhere trumpeted the historic event on their front pages. The sports world came to a virtual standstill to watch the event and emotions ran high in the Obamas’ hometown of Chicago as well as throughout Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham, Alabama, sites of historic events during the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.
The most interesting celebration, however, came a day early in Iowa, where a rubber Barack Obama on a donkey, flanked by two sets of black SUVs, paraded through Des Moines.
A few men led the Donkey down the street and a woman made her way along the sidewalk, keeping up with the procession and handing out palm branches to the few perplexed onlookers who had gathered on the sidewalks to see what the fuss was about.
I stopped the woman to ask what was going on, and she explained that this was the work of her husband, an artist who fashions these sorts of statues.
I asked her what sort of political statement they were trying to make with this display, and she said only that it was the “triumphal entry,” referring to the scene in the Gospels in which Jesus Christ returns to Jerusalem a week before his crucifixion and resurrection, riding on a donkey.
Abroad, a small town in Japan with a very meaningful name celebrated the day as China censored parts of Obama’s speech. A Nigerian mattress firm advertised “great mattresses, great dreams” with a picture of a napping President Obama. Obama lookalikes helped advocate for minorities in France and appeared on the top Indonesian talk show.
-- By Carolyn Phenicie
Christopher Dean Hopkins
January 21, 2009; 5:10 PM ET
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