52 States in 8 Months

The Presidential Parade with a disappointing GWU float

Posted in Inauguration trip by Ulf on March 18, 2009

I’ve a very bad feeling: This post will once again be very long. One picture will look like any other, so the whole thing will get very boring. Please consider this more like a diary post for myself (and my memories) and less as a blog post for your entertainment ;-).

So, what was the presidential parade like? Well, at first Alex and I went to some GWU student center and bought something to eat (Yammi, yammi!! the best meal I’ve had for weeks or maybe even for months!). This is also where we finally met Rebekka. She has never been far away from us during the whole morning, but we actually never saw her ;-). Rebekka had some newspaper, and there was a very funny article. Do you remember the Iraqi Shoe-Tosser? Well, apparently someone threw some shoes over the White House fence just before Bush moved out :-) :-) :-).

Meanwhile the new president had his lunch, too. We watched the CNN coverage in the student center. They also told us about Senator Ted Kennedy who collapsed during this lunch. Fortunately he survived. Otherwise Obama’s first day as a black president would have been really a “black day” for the United States.

While the presidential parade started, Alex, Rebekka and I enjoyed the warm atmosphere of the GWU student center. Meanwhile Daniel and Boris benefited from their observation points: They witnessed at first hand what we only saw on the TV screen:

The fifth picture disclosed that the Americans do not take their parades as serious as the Russians do. There was a Metro bus right between armed forces!! :-)

About 30 minutes after the parade started, the real object of desire went by. However, Obama was in his armored car, so Boris and Danial only saw his silhouette. The media said that Michelle Obama had problems with walking the whole distance. I think putting Obama in a car with closed windows is the job of some US security lunatics. Anyway, our Delawarian Joe Biden was not taking the car, and our two scouts on the Pennsylvania Ave sidewalk spotted him :-).

After the president reached the White House, the main part of the parade started. Many marching bands from all over the country went by, and Obama had to watch all of them from his lookout next to Penn Ave. Wikipedia says that there were 15,000 people altogether. That number doesn’t mean much to me, so let’s try to visualize it. If they were walking in a distance of 2m, the queue would be 30km long. With a speed of 5km/h, the parade would have lasted 6 hours. Luckily they were not all lined up but formatted a grid instead, so the overall parade took only about 2 hours.

Somewhere at about two thirds of the parade, the GWU float took part. But how does it look like? What happened to the inflatable globe for the school of international affairs? You’ve seen it a few days ago. They’ve replaced it with an American flag! What kind of a symbol is that? If the international affairs don’t work as expected, the GWU just replaces every internationality with a patriotic American flag? I thought the time of American solo runs was finally over…

Alex, Rebekka and I were so upset that we left the GWU student center immediately and looked at the parade itself. It turned out that the TV pictures were right: The globe had really been replaced with the flag. Poor GWU…

Once we were outside, we decided to watch the end of the parade. It was about 6pm, just after sunset. This is why it was not that easy to take pictures. Still it was interesting to see what different cameras make out of the same situation: The first picture is from Rebekka, the second one is from my camera and the third one finally comes from Alex:

The funny thing is that we did not arrange to take pictures at the same time. It just happened ;-).

During the parade there were many funny floats. At some point a Corvette was driving along Pennsylvania Ave, and there were also some American lawnmowers and some rolling toilet bowls. I don’t know what there message was supposed to be, but it was funny to look at :-).

The next is one of the contributions from Obama’s home state, Hawaii. I really wonder how these ladies could survive the parade. I mean, it was around freezing on this day, and they were coming from Hawaii! That means that they were used to temperatures like 80-100°F!

Some more impressions from the parade. These are the pictures which I should probably throw away since I can’t tell you anything about them, but since this is not supposed to be  an entertaining blog post, they are kept here :-).

Now, there were some people on the street which looked a bit like being part of the parade, but in fact they were not: The road sweepers. After every float with horses (there were about 240 horses altogether), a team of sweepers was cleaning the streets. Any you know what? I think they were the most entertaining people of them all :-). However, at one time they missed a pile of horse excrements. Poor dancers that were coming right behind them… If you’re in a formation, you just can’t avoid them without leaving your line. And they did not leave their line…

In the end of the parade there was another great participant. It was the new “Lunar Electric Rover” (unfortunately, nasa.gov is down right now, so I don’t know what to find here and here). You’ll find a great video on the bottom of this post.

After the parade was over, we went home. On our way we met president Obama when we went by some restaurant, and we also saw a Hummer Stretch Limo which was stuck in a DC traffic yam. They couldn’t drive away, so we decided to exploit their being stuck for taking a picture :-).

Finally, these are two videos from the event. The first one (2:49) shall give you an impression of the music that they played throughout the parade, and the second one (0:25) is the NASA lunar electric rover :-).

Oh, and since I don’t want to waste an empty blog post on this: On our way home we also went by the Teddy Roosevelt memorial in DC. From the other memorials in DC I already knew that they look better at night than during the daytime, because one can’t see the gray sky at night.
This time however, I was wrong. The memorial is not illuminated, so basically one can’t see anything at night:

inauguration_2009-01-20_20-05-11_ulf inauguration_2009-01-20_20-06-53_ulf

Frustrated about this memorial we canceled our McDonald’s dinner and ate Spaghetti instead…



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