The traditional reviewing stand on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building — which costs more than some city houses — includes two flat-screen televisions, carpeting and space for as many as 151 guests at a time.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), top administration officials, all 13 council members and invited guests will use the glass-enclosed stand to stay warm during the parade.
At a news conference Wednesday, Gray defended the cost of the stand, noting that the city expects to be reimbursed by the federal government. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) noted that the city has built an enclosed stand for inaugurations dating back to at least the early 1990s.
“There are hundreds of people invited down to the building to be able to watch the parade,” Gray said. “People will be able to move in and out of here, as the parade moves on.”
When asked why city leaders couldn’t watch the parade from a non-enclosed space, Gray noted that he may not even be in the stand because he will be participating in the parade.
“I don’t care about staying warm,” Gray said. “I think really it is a way of concentrating the District’s participation in the inaugural parade. I really haven’t heard a lot of people talk about keeping warm. It’s just a way of watching the parade.”
Gray added that the reviewing stand in front of the White House for the Obama family and guests is larger than the one at the Wilson Building.
“It’s an opportunity for us to demonstrate the District’s wherewithal, the District’s being part of the United States of America,” said Gray, noting that the stand includes a message advocating for voting rights and statehood.
The stand, which took more than a month to build, will be torn down shortly after the parade. But Brian Hanlon, director of the Department of General Services, said more than 90 percent of the material will be reused or recycled.
Staff writer Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.