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Scenes From an Inauguration

A Jumbotron on the Mall shows President Obama delivering his inaugural address yesterday afternoon after his swearing-in ceremony.
A Jumbotron on the Mall shows President Obama delivering his inaugural address yesterday afternoon after his swearing-in ceremony. (By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post)
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"Dear God, not the shoes! I could barely get them on this morning, with the double socks I put on."

-- William Wan

* * *

9:38 a.m., Ticket Blows Away

On I Street, a young man in gray sweat pants walked briskly toward the Mall. A gust of wind blew something from his hand. Heading in the opposite direction, Nicole Martin, 36, of Chicago, picked it up and handed it to him.

"Oh, thank you," the man said.

"What was that? Inaugural ticket?" asked her husband, James Martin, also 36, of Chicago.

"Yeah," she said, adjusting the purple scarf wound around her neck.

-- Lena H. Sun * * *

10:27 a.m., Lost Opportunity

"There goes another five dollars," Thomas Peguese, 39, said with a sigh, as one more forlorn face stared into the window of his charter bus on D Street SW, hoping for a bathroom.

Peguese's firm head shake was usually enough to send the desperate on their way, but the more intrepid among them would knock on the door, open it, beg a little and even offer some money.

One young man cautiously opened the bus door and asked:

"Could she use the bathroom?"

Beside him stood the man's exceptionally unhappy-looking companion.

"I'm sorry, man, I can't do it," Peguese replied.

"I'll give you five bucks! Ten bucks!"

"Sorry, man."

-- Amy Gardner

* * *

11:30 a.m., Worth the Effort

Claire Jennings's work for the Obama campaign won her a reserved seat along the parade route. A trip to the operating room in August to repair a bad knee left her in a wheelchair.

Yesterday, after an eight-hour drive from Atlanta, followed by a Metro ride from Culpeper, she and her 12-year-old daughter, Lauren, were shown to their seats by a red-capped usher.

"I just had to be here," she said, draped in a full-length fur coat with a blanket covering her legs. "I'm so grateful, because I'm able to have this seat. It was all worth it."

-- Timothy J. Wilson

12:30 p.m., Lost Sixth-Grader

Mike Odle, a captain in the Oregon National Guard, was standing behind a row of porta-potties on the Mall when he felt a tug on his camouflage jacket.

A sixth-grader from Ohio named Nathan, choking back tears, handed him a note. It read: "If lost, please return Nathan to RFK Stadium." It included the parking space where Nathan's charter bus was parked, and it listed a cellphone number for his teacher.

Nathan was helped back to his bus.

-- Aaron C. Davis

* * *

12:33 p.m., Shared Computer

In a few hours, the folks camped along the parade route would have a prime view, but as the swearing-in ceremony took place out of their sight, those waiting had nothing but empty street to stare at.

So Gary McLeod, 38, pulled out a laptop with an Internet card and clicked onto President Obama's inauguration speech. Soon, dozens are crowded around him.

"I think it's really neat," said McLeod, an architect who lives in the District. "It's kind of a 21st century version of the way people used to crowd around television stores to watch important events on the televisions in the window. Only in this case, I'm the television store."

-- N.C. Aizenman * * *

1:20 p.m., Maine Event

"Our kids are in the band," they said proudly to almost anyone who would listen as they stood against the metal barriers across from the National Museum of Natural History.

Most in the crowd came for the new president, but Vicki Payeur came to see her son Alex, a junior who plays trumpet. Ronald Prive came to see his son Matthew, who plays alto sax. The 78-member high school marching band and color guard hails from Sanford, a working-class community in southern Maine.

"We just want pictures," they said. "We just want pictures."

-- Lori Aratani * * *

2:30 p.m., Wayward Bus

Kathleen Lewis stood beside the gravel path, her eyes desperately searching the stream of people headed back to their charter buses. The 71-year-old Raleigh, N.C., woman couldn't recall where her bus was parked.

For a while, Lewis was not alone. Others stood alongside her, occasionally glancing at one another, shaking their heads in frustration.

Eventually, though, the other people found their way, leaving Lewis to suffer in solitude. Finally, she had had enough.

"I'm going to have to go look for my bus," she said. "Fantastic."

-- Matt Zapotosky * * *

3:15 p.m., Sudden Warmth

The crowd sat in silence, slightly glum, shivering against the cold as they waited for the parade.

"Ladies and gentlemen," intoned a voice over a loudspeaker. "If you don't know the person to your right or left, introduce yourself. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!"

Laughter erupted.

"Hello, I'm Larry," an elderly white man with a snowy beard said to an elderly African American woman in an elegant black hat.

"Hello, I'm Alfreida," she said, brightening into a smile.

-- N.C. Aizenman

* * *

4 p.m., 'Obama Friends'

Two women from opposite sides of the country -- one white, one black -- sat on a bench to rest. Within minutes of meeting, they had declared themselves "Obama friends."

Stephanie Wise, 48, of Smithfield, Va., manages a Walgreens store and said she has struggled "as a black female in a position of authority." There will be new respect, she said, with Obama in the White House: "I'm so proud."

Deb Cornwell, 50, of Pasadena, Calif., agreed that she thinks the country is on the brink of renewal.

"We've been standing shoulder-to-shoulder, back-to-back," Cornwell said. "And if this is what America's going to be like, I think we have a chance. It's exhilarating."

-- Nick Miroff

* * *

4:20 p.m., Gift of Water

Breathless and harried, a woman approached a Metro worker with a request that gave her away as an out-of-towner.

"Do you have any water?" she asked Metro worker Lorenzo Paige. "I am soooo dehydrated."

On any other day, a lecture about Metro's no-food-and-drink policy might have been in store. Not today: Paige unzipped his coat and handed the woman his bottle of water, cautioning her to drink it outside the Metro.

He wasn't one to wax poetic about Obama and service, saying only, "There's no stores around here, so . . . ."

Then he smiled and turned to help someone else.

-- Matt Zapotosky

* * *

5:40 p.m., Day to Remember

As the last of the crowds passed through the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station, a janitor used his broom to muscle mini-mountains of trash into a larger pile.

There were empty water bottles, hand warmer wrappers and almost every other sort of rubbish. But there were no newspapers. People were holding on to those.

-- William Wan


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