Train Trip to Begin Four Days of Events

By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 16, 2009

Four days of official inauguration activities will get underway tomorrow as President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. embark on their train ride from Philadelphia to Washington.

But officials had bad news yesterday for people hoping to greet the train at Union Station. The arrival in Washington is not public.

"It's going to be a closed event in Washington," said Kevin Griffis, a spokesman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. "It will be the end of a long journey."

Spectators are "unlikely" to get a glimpse, he said. Until yesterday, officials had released no information about how the Union Station stop would be handled.

Tomorrow's day-long whistle-stop tour starts off several big events that mix history, Hollywood and humanity. It is a tribute to President Abraham Lincoln, another former Illinois senator who rode the rails to his inauguration.

Obama will begin the trek at 10:15 a.m. with a public ticketed event at a train station in Philadelphia. He will then board a train to Wilmington, Del., for a 1 p.m. public event with Biden at the back of the train station. By 4:15 p.m., they are to be in Baltimore for an event at War Memorial Plaza.

In Baltimore, gates open at 1 p.m. The plaza can accommodate about 20,000 people. Mayor Sheila Dixon said there will be areas at the Inner Harbor amphitheater and in front of the National Aquarium where people can watch the event live on video screens.

On Sunday, Obama's homage to the 16th president will continue with a concert of mega-stars, including performers Beyoncé and Bruce Springsteen, at the Lincoln Memorial. The free non-ticketed concert begins at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised live on HBO, with a rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Gates open at 8 a.m.

The event is the official public welcome to Washington, but getting to it could be a challenge: Memorial Bridge will be closed to pedestrians, and the Arlington Cemetery Metro exit will be closed.

Obama will honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday by focusing on its designation as a national day of service, encouraging the public to participate in community service projects found at http://www.usaservice.org. That night, the Obamas and Bidens will join the children of military families at Verizon Center for a free concert featuring Miley Cyrus, among others. It will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. on the Disney Channel.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company