Four years ago, unprecedented crowds converged on the National Mall for President Barack Obama’s historic inauguration. To say it was a logistical challenge for law enforcement and ceremony organizers would be an understatement.
Hoping to avoid the chaos next month when Obama is sworn in for a second term, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has a plan.
The committee, overseen by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., announced on Wednesday that it had a “comprehensive crowd management plan.”
“At our very first meeting, the members of the Joint Congressional Committee and I decided that we had to make crowd management a top priority for upcoming ceremonies,” Schumer said in a statement. “For many months, we’ve been developing a plan that will keep ticket lines moving and ensure that everyone who comes to Washington, D.C., to celebrate democracy enjoys their experience.
“I’m hopeful that our plans will solve the issues that plagued past ceremonies, and will contribute to a smooth day on January 21st,” he continued.
For one thing, the Third Street tunnel will be closed on Inauguration Day. Now better known as the “Purple Tunnel of Doom,” in 2009 it was filled to capacity with several hundred purple-coded ticketholders waiting to be led into their section to watch the swearing-in. They, and thousands of others, were shut out of the festivities due to the high volume of people.
For another, according to the JCCIC’s release, there will be a “dramatic increase” in signs pointing to the various ticket entry areas, “posted at major landmarks and Metro stops.”
The crowd control plan will amp up the number of staff dedicated to directing ticketholders to their various entry points, and magnetometers will help things move quickly.
And, for the first time ever, there will be staff members entirely responsible for monitoring Twitter and other social media platforms.
“If the monitors detect a large number of tweets regarding a log-jam or slow-moving lines in a certain area, officials will be directed to the area of concern to address the issue in real time,” according to the release.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.