Inauguration weekend festivities will include National Day of Service fair on the Mall
By Fredrick Kunkle,
To kick off the National Day of Service that will be part of President Obama’s second inauguration this month, organizers are planning to set up a tented service fair on the Mall that would showcase approximately 100 charitable and community service groups and encourage people to join them.
The all-day fair on Jan. 19 will feature speakers, musical performances and booths where people can learn more about local and national service organizations, such as Bread for the City, Operation Hope, Feeding America or the USO, Presidential Inaugural Committee members said Friday. Visitors will be able sign up to volunteer that day and, committee organizers hope, agree to pledge their services for the following year.
The committee is still working out the final details for what they said would be a marquee event for the National Day of Service.
“Presidents have incorporated events that they hoped would continue, much like President Bush who began the tradition of the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball,” committee spokeswoman Addie Whisenant said. “In asking Americans to continue serving their communities throughout each year, President Obama also hopes that the Day of Service becomes a tradition for future inaugurals.”
Because the constitutionally mandated inauguration date, Jan. 20, falls on a Sunday, Obama will take the official oath of office that day in a private ceremony. A public ceremony will be held Jan. 21, which coincides with the national holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The aim of the service fair on the Mall is to provide a point of entry for people on a day when the president is urging Americans to lend a hand in their communities. Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, and Cabinet members will take part in service events across the region, organizers said.
The committee, whose inaugural theme is “Our People, Our Future,” has teamed up with the Corporation for National and Community Service and hired staff around the country to help organize events for the National Day of Service.
On the Mall, the service organizations will be grouped around seven themes: health, environment, veterans and military families, faith, education, economic development and “community resilience,” which might entail helping communities struck by national disasters or tragedies, such as Hurricane Sandy or the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Obama made national service a key part of his first inauguration in 2009, also tying it to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the region and the country turned out to serve four years ago, giving of their time in a host of activities that ranged from preparing people’s taxes, giving massages, collecting bicycles to send to Africa and cleaning children’s teeth.