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Some Find Frustration in Inauguration's 'Dry Run'

UPDATE, 4:45 p.m.: Heidi Plott, 46, an IT professional from Alexandria, said she and her friends arrived at about 1:30 p.m. and waited on lines on both sides of the Mall before finally being told that the security checkpoints had closed.

"We didn't know what was going on with the entrances. They weren't announcing anything was closed," she said.

Plott, who grew up in the D.C. area, said she recalled many past concerts and events on the Mall that were open and didn't involve security checkpoints. "It's so much more difficult now," she said.

She said the National Guard soldiers lining the fences along the entryways to the Mall didn't have any information about where arriving spectators could go to pass through security lines.

"We got the best info from the landscape guys," she said.

"This is the first disappointment of the weekend," said Bill Randall, 63, a businessman from Philadelphia who got to a checkpoint on the south side of the Mall only to learn that it was closed. He said he was disappointed there weren't more Jumbotrons on the south side of the Mall so people could watch.

As for Tuesday's inauguration, he said, "We're going to watch at home -- and then go dance."

UPDATE 2:50 p.m.: Post reporters Michael Birnbaum, Tom Jackman and Michael Taylor: All checkpoints have been closed and will stay closed for the duration of the concert. The Mall is a sea of people between the Lincoln and Washington memorials, and a large number of people apparently were turned away.

2:30 p.m.: Thousands of people waiting in a security line near the World War II Memorial found the entrance closed and are being sent to another gate, with few answers coming from authorities, reports the Post's Eric M. Weiss.

By David A Nakamura  |  January 18, 2009; 4:50 PM ET  | Category:  Security
Previous: Video: Post's Nakamura on Concert, Planning | Next: Latest Coverage From the Post

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So there is no point coming down? There is no way, no place we can listen?

Posted by: missanna | January 18, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Looks like we are on the hbo, sister. But going EARRRRLY on Tuesday ....

Posted by: esmerelda123 | January 18, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

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Thank You

John Warren

Posted by: johntheman07 | January 18, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Dear W Post,

watching the coverage live on TV, i note that your description of the scene on the mall quote: "The Mall is a sea of people between the Lincoln and Washington memorials..." is incorrect.

The crowd is congregated immediately around the Lincoln Memorial. But half way down the reflecting pool, from the Lincoln Memorial towards the WWII memorial, the crowd rapidly dissipates.

Everywhere else the mall, based on TV coverage, there are plety of people in motion, but not at all the kind of inescapable congestion that your term " a sea of people " conveys.

Is your journalism intended to hype? or convey facts ?

Posted by: jm1996a | January 18, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

You were given misinformation jm1996a. There was an unbelievable crowd of people squeezed together at the reflecting pool. I know, because i was very close to the front of the reflecting pool. It was so crowded, we could not leave our space or move around very much. The people in the middle and very back were sardined together. Getting food or using the porta potties was an unbelievable task. It took over an hour to do either one. The place was packed. I'm glad they stopped letting people into the area. There was a continuous group of people from the reflecting pool to the Washington monument. Somebody told us to turn around and look back. Amazing. Everybody turned around and started taking pictures.
What an unbelievable concert! It was historical!

Posted by: PurpleRabbit1 | January 18, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

The crowd as described in the article is completely accurate. The ww2 memorial was empty but there were Thousands of people standing behind it all the way to the Washington monument. I know because I was in that wonderful and good natured smush of people :) the hbo cameras only took one or two shots of that area, otherwise the show does make it look like the audience thins out at ww2. I think security shut that memorial from guests (to keep us away from the fountains maybe?) the concert was amazing. I'll remember it forever. Bono brought goosebumps

Posted by: powell2 | January 18, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

I arrived around 9.30 am and got a good spot upfront - although we could see the the podium while the few rehearsals took place - the minute the 'vips' got there, all we could see were their backs and the jumbo screens. I truly feel sorry for our disruption of the welcome invocation, but no one in the reflecting pool / general admission area could hear anything. We were forced to shout 'We cant hear,' 'Need more Sound' and then pointing to the speakers that werent working at the time. Once that was cleared up, it was great. It was very crowded and moving about as a challenge. I told everyone I knew to get there early, and most showed up after between 1 and 2 pm asking if there was space - all I could see as far back as the war memorial was a sea of people. I dont think they got in. They say the early bird catches the worm , but we all saw the same thing, since being upfront didnt get one a view of the performers. It was a great show nonetheless and Garth Brooks and Bono brought the house down. Shout!

Posted by: ashie_no1 | January 18, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

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